Less than two weeks after the Jets missed the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season, offensive coordinator John Morton’s future with the team remains in doubt. The first-time play-caller is under contract for 2018, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll have a second chance to run Gang Green’s offense, according to sources.
The Daily News reported after the season that the Jets would let Morton join Jon Gruden’s coaching staff in Oakland if the opportunity presented itself. The team hasn’t changed its mind. The Jets wouldn’t stand in the way of a Morton-Gruden reunion if the new Raiders leader offers any position to his former pupil. Gruden announced Greg Olsen as his offensive coordinator Tuesday.
Morton’s situation with the Jets, whose offense languished in the bottom third of the league in nearly every meaningful statistical category, remains unresolved.
There have been internal discussions to elevate quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who is regarded by some people on One Jets Drive as the best offensive mind in the building. Bates, however, had given indications as recently as a couple weeks ago that he wasn’t interested in the job.
Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo was the Jets’ top choice to replace Chan Gailey last year, according to sources, before Philly blocked the interview request. DeFilippo, whose stock has soared in the wake of Carson Wentz’s break-out season, interviewed for the Bears and Cardinals head coaching vacancies last week. He would be the Jets’ top external choice again, according to team sources.Gang Green wouldn’t necessarily place any potential OC search on hold until the Eagles finished their playoff run though.
There’s a belief, however, that the Jets would prefer to promote from within with Bates. Some people in the organization believe that Bates, who has been a play-caller for the Broncos and Seahawks, prefers to remain in the background. He was an important part of the Jets’ weekly game-planning this season with little fanfare.
Others would like Bates to reconsider and welcome a possible promotion. Regardless, the Jets aren’t going to force him to take the gig if he’s not all-in. (It would make sense to elevate Bates given the team’s desire for stability).
Todd Bowles, meanwhile, praised Morton at his season-ending press conference, but admitted that life in the NFL is fluid.
John Morton’s future is in doubt with the Jets.
“It’s always good to have consistency and continuity, but in the NFL things change all the time,” Bowles said on January 1. “You have to be ready. If we keep the same scheme, that’s great. If we have to change for whatever reason, we’ll go from there.”
Morton is respected on One Jets Drive for his work ethic and desire to get better, but there are some fair concerns about whether he’s the right man to lead the Jets offense in the next phase of this rebuilding process. Matt Forte openly questioned Morton’s pass-happy play-calling in a Week 8 loss to the Falcons on a rainy day. Some people in the organization have privately questioned his play-calling in several other games, including (but not limited to) the season opener in Buffalo and shutout loss in Denver.
Here are the raw numbers: The Jets finished 28th in total yards, 29th in first downs, 23rd in third-down efficiency, 24th in scoring, 24th in passing yards and 19th in rushing yards.
It’s fair to consider the overall lack of offensive talent when evaluating Morton’s first season. His reputation as a grinder was spot on though. He doesn’t cut corners, according to people in the know. Perhaps he deserves another chance to prove himself in 2018.
“I picked him for a reason,” Bowles said after the season. “He had some plays this year that were outstanding. He had some games where he called great. He had some games where he himself would tell you he’d like to have back. But, we’re happy with John and everything he did this year. Obviously, we have to grow from there, but it takes all the coaches, not just one.”
There should be more clarity in the coming days and weeks.