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Thread: Conor Orr: The Marty Mornhinweg system: How the new Jets coordinator runs his offense

  1. #1

    Conor Orr: The Marty Mornhinweg system: How the new Jets coordinator runs his offense

    The Marty Mornhinweg system: How the new Jets coordinator runs his offense

    Conor Orr/The Star-Ledger
    Published: Jan 23, 2013, 4:28 AM

    On his first day as Marty Mornhinweg’s quarterbacks coach, Kevin Higgins learned that some of his most rooted beliefs about the game would no longer apply.

    For example, the path a receiver takes during a passing play is not, and should never be called, a pattern. In the NFL, you call it a route.

    And that drill nearly every quarterback in football does to warm up before practice — the one where he’s holding the ball and opening his hips to the left and right? That’s completely useless.

    The QB doesn’t move like that during a game, does he?

    "He said, ‘What the heck are you doing?’ " Higgins said. "Everything you did had to carry over to the game."

    Higgins, the current head coach at The Citadel who worked under Mornhinweg during his two years as a head coach for the Detroit Lions, has as good an understanding of Mornhinweg’s offense as anyone.

    He helped Mornhinweg sculpt game plans, made adjustments and, after being removed for more than a decade, has the perspective to compare it against other West Coast-style schemes.

    As the Jets prepare for their first season with Mornhinweg as the new offensive coordinator, Higgins gave The Star-Ledger a look at some of the main principles in the coordinator’s system.

    Like Mornhinweg himself, the offense is meticulous and dependent on precise details. Quarterbacks alone have a menu of 30 different drills to chose from during the week, consistent with the Bill Walsh coaching philosophy Mornhinweg learned from, Higgins said.

    Like Mornhinweg’s numbers show — eight top-10 scoring offenses as a head coach or coordinator, as well as nine top-10 passing offenses, and six top-10 rushing offenses — it can pay off.

    "It’s versatile, there’s a lot of things you can do," Higgins said. "Typically you’re playing with two backs in the backfield, so you’re going to have the opportunity to run power, run gap schemes and run inside and outside zones.

    "From a pass game standpoint, it’s all about timing and it’s all about rhythm."

    IT'S ABOUT TIMING

    "It was never on a clock. It’s all about the quarterback’s footwork."

    From slants to skinny posts, every route in Mornhinweg’s playbook is based on a timing system with a direct correlation to the type of drop-back a quarterback takes. The drops include:

    Three step, plant and throw.

    Three step, hesitate and throw.

    Five step, plant and throw.

    Five step, hitch and throw.

    Seven step, hitch and throw.

    The goal is to create a quarterback-receiver relationship based more on feel and rhythm. In the past, for example, Mark Sanchez was put on a countdown clock and buzzer in order to get plays off in a certain time. This system would ensure the wideout is working off of a different, more natural indicator to run the route.

    "The series of quarterback-related drills (he does with footwork), I think, are outstanding," Higgins said. "That’s the first thing I did when I arrived in Detroit. Marty pulled me in a room and we went through them all meticulously. Every drill had a name and a goal."

    COMPLETION PERCENTAGE

    "There’s going to be a lot of slants, a lot of out routes and a lot of skinny posts."

    Because of the timed routes, Higgins said the offense thrives on completion percentage, despite Mornhinweg working with quarterbacks not known for hitting on a high percentage of their passes. From 2010-2012, under Mornhinweg, Eagles QB Michael Vick had a completion rate of 60.2 percent after having a career 53.8 percentage in Atlanta.

    Sanchez has a 55.1 rate for his career.

    Higgins said the quarterbacks they worked with in Detroit loved the system, not only because of the simplicity and high success rate of the routes, but because of the security blanket installed with each play. No matter what, every play has a designed check-down option.

    "On every route that’s devised, there’s always going to be a check-down," Higgins said. "We used to say, ‘as long as you can count to three you can be successful.’ If one isn’t there, look to two. If two isn’t there, reset your feet and make sure you find No. 3. There’s always going to be a nice check-down for you."

    CREATING MISMATCHES

    "We didn’t have a lot of talent, that was before some of the high draft choices like Roy Williams and guys like Az-Zahir Hakim came. … But just the various ways he could get the backs the football, I thought, was very, very good."

    During Mornhinweg’s first season as Lions head coach in 2001, the team was first in the league in passing attempts and sixth in yards, despite a slew of injuries and a roster depleted of top-level talent.

    One of his top weapons ended up being 6-foot, 247-pound fullback Cory Schlesinger, who understood leverage and could mismatch himself on linebackers. Schlesinger had 60 receptions for 466 yards, the second-most receptions on the team next to wideout Johnnie Morton.

    During the Jets’ 2012 season, the fullbacks and running backs combined had just 42 catches — a correlation that’s easy to make with a rapid regression in Sanchez’s game, including the second-worst completion percentage of his career.

    GOING DEEP

    "What made Marty different from all the other West Coast guys was he took a lot of shots downfield."

    Between 2010 and 2011, Mornhinweg’s Eagles were in the top 10 in passing plays of 20 yards or more. On passing plays of 40 yards or more they were No. 1 in 2010 and No. 12 in 2011.

    Higgins remembers this philosophy going back to offensive meetings where Mornhinweg would look at the game plan and jokingly scold his coaches in Detroit for being too reliant on the safe dinks and dunks that define his system.

    "We’ve only got three or four shots downfield," Higgins remembered Mornhinweg saying. "I want to see six or seven that can give us an honest chance at a home run that are realistic plays, like deep crossing routes with seven or eight man protection."

    He wanted detail and regiment, but he also wanted the chance to surprise on any given play. In essence, what Rex Ryan has said he now wants in an offense.

    "The Jets are going to enjoy playing for him," Higgins said.

  2. #2
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    It is going to be an exciting Offense that I can't wait to see. We'll know a lot by the FA and draftees.

  3. #3
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    Good read, thanks.

    I found this part bizarre

    Higgins said the quarterbacks they worked with in Detroit loved the system, not only because of the simplicity and high success rate of the routes, but because of the security blanket installed with each play. No matter what, every play has a designed check-down option.

    "On every route that’s devised, there’s always going to be a check-down," Higgins said. "We used to say, ‘as long as you can count to three you can be successful.’ If one isn’t there, look to two. If two isn’t there, reset your feet and make sure you find No. 3. There’s always going to be a nice check-down for you."
    Doesn't every system have a designed check down on pass plays?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by C Mart View Post
    The Marty Mornhinweg system: How the new Jets coordinator runs his offense

    Conor Orr/The Star-Ledger
    Published: Jan 23, 2013, 4:28 AM

    On his first day as Marty Mornhinweg’s quarterbacks coach, Kevin Higgins learned that some of his most rooted beliefs about the game would no longer apply.

    For example, the path a receiver takes during a passing play is not, and should never be called, a pattern. In the NFL, you call it a route.

    And that drill nearly every quarterback in football does to warm up before practice — the one where he’s holding the ball and opening his hips to the left and right? That’s completely useless.

    The QB doesn’t move like that during a game, does he?

    "He said, ‘What the heck are you doing?’ " Higgins said. "Everything you did had to carry over to the game."

    Higgins, the current head coach at The Citadel who worked under Mornhinweg during his two years as a head coach for the Detroit Lions, has as good an understanding of Mornhinweg’s offense as anyone.

    He helped Mornhinweg sculpt game plans, made adjustments and, after being removed for more than a decade, has the perspective to compare it against other West Coast-style schemes.

    As the Jets prepare for their first season with Mornhinweg as the new offensive coordinator, Higgins gave The Star-Ledger a look at some of the main principles in the coordinator’s system.

    Like Mornhinweg himself, the offense is meticulous and dependent on precise details. Quarterbacks alone have a menu of 30 different drills to chose from during the week, consistent with the Bill Walsh coaching philosophy Mornhinweg learned from, Higgins said.

    Like Mornhinweg’s numbers show — eight top-10 scoring offenses as a head coach or coordinator, as well as nine top-10 passing offenses, and six top-10 rushing offenses — it can pay off.

    "It’s versatile, there’s a lot of things you can do," Higgins said. "Typically you’re playing with two backs in the backfield, so you’re going to have the opportunity to run power, run gap schemes and run inside and outside zones.

    "From a pass game standpoint, it’s all about timing and it’s all about rhythm."

    IT'S ABOUT TIMING

    "It was never on a clock. It’s all about the quarterback’s footwork."

    From slants to skinny posts, every route in Mornhinweg’s playbook is based on a timing system with a direct correlation to the type of drop-back a quarterback takes. The drops include:

    Three step, plant and throw.

    Three step, hesitate and throw.

    Five step, plant and throw.

    Five step, hitch and throw.

    Seven step, hitch and throw.

    The goal is to create a quarterback-receiver relationship based more on feel and rhythm. In the past, for example, Mark Sanchez was put on a countdown clock and buzzer in order to get plays off in a certain time. This system would ensure the wideout is working off of a different, more natural indicator to run the route.

    "The series of quarterback-related drills (he does with footwork), I think, are outstanding," Higgins said. "That’s the first thing I did when I arrived in Detroit. Marty pulled me in a room and we went through them all meticulously. Every drill had a name and a goal."

    COMPLETION PERCENTAGE

    "There’s going to be a lot of slants, a lot of out routes and a lot of skinny posts."

    Because of the timed routes, Higgins said the offense thrives on completion percentage, despite Mornhinweg working with quarterbacks not known for hitting on a high percentage of their passes. From 2010-2012, under Mornhinweg, Eagles QB Michael Vick had a completion rate of 60.2 percent after having a career 53.8 percentage in Atlanta.

    Sanchez has a 55.1 rate for his career.

    Higgins said the quarterbacks they worked with in Detroit loved the system, not only because of the simplicity and high success rate of the routes, but because of the security blanket installed with each play. No matter what, every play has a designed check-down option.

    "On every route that’s devised, there’s always going to be a check-down," Higgins said. "We used to say, ‘as long as you can count to three you can be successful.’ If one isn’t there, look to two. If two isn’t there, reset your feet and make sure you find No. 3. There’s always going to be a nice check-down for you."

    CREATING MISMATCHES

    "We didn’t have a lot of talent, that was before some of the high draft choices like Roy Williams and guys like Az-Zahir Hakim came. … But just the various ways he could get the backs the football, I thought, was very, very good."

    During Mornhinweg’s first season as Lions head coach in 2001, the team was first in the league in passing attempts and sixth in yards, despite a slew of injuries and a roster depleted of top-level talent.

    One of his top weapons ended up being 6-foot, 247-pound fullback Cory Schlesinger, who understood leverage and could mismatch himself on linebackers. Schlesinger had 60 receptions for 466 yards, the second-most receptions on the team next to wideout Johnnie Morton.

    During the Jets’ 2012 season, the fullbacks and running backs combined had just 42 catches — a correlation that’s easy to make with a rapid regression in Sanchez’s game, including the second-worst completion percentage of his career.

    GOING DEEP

    "What made Marty different from all the other West Coast guys was he took a lot of shots downfield."

    Between 2010 and 2011, Mornhinweg’s Eagles were in the top 10 in passing plays of 20 yards or more. On passing plays of 40 yards or more they were No. 1 in 2010 and No. 12 in 2011.

    Higgins remembers this philosophy going back to offensive meetings where Mornhinweg would look at the game plan and jokingly scold his coaches in Detroit for being too reliant on the safe dinks and dunks that define his system.

    "We’ve only got three or four shots downfield," Higgins remembered Mornhinweg saying. "I want to see six or seven that can give us an honest chance at a home run that are realistic plays, like deep crossing routes with seven or eight man protection."

    He wanted detail and regiment, but he also wanted the chance to surprise on any given play. In essence, what Rex Ryan has said he now wants in an offense.

    "The Jets are going to enjoy playing for him," Higgins said.

    Sounds all nice a cuddly. I bet Tony Sparano had a plan also. But seriously I hope he does improve our offense. Any system is better than what Sparano ran!

  5. #5
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    The Eagles may not have won a ton of games the past few seasons, but they did not have a problem gaining yards, moving the ball from 20 to 20.

    He's a good OC and I think he will help move this offense in the right direction.

    Sanchez might even have a decent year, if he's still here.

    edit:

    JoeJam, the difference between Sparano and Morninwig is that Marty actually has experience as a play caller and is a proven success with most of his teams finishing in the top 10 in offense -- Tony didn't have that on his resume. To put it plainly, Sparano is a joke of a OC and should have never been hired... and I think it will be quite some time before he gets that title from another team.
    Last edited by TheMikeIsHot; 01-23-2013 at 07:33 AM.

  6. #6
    Hopefully he can find the good Sanchez. He's in there somewhere and we're stuck with him for one more year.

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    I honestly wish with all my heart that Sanchez had been introduced into this system from the very begining!!!! I truly think he would be fine now...

    Unfortunately I am really concerned about Sanchez's mental appraoch to the game as it now stands.

    The real question is can Sanchez overcome what I see as his mental blocks going forward now?

    I am just not confident that he can and it is a shame really.....

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Brown View Post
    I honestly wish with all my heart that Sanchez had been introduced into this system from the very begining!!!! I truly think he would be fine now...

    Unfortunately I am really concerned about Sanchez's mental appraoch to the game as it now stands.

    The real question is can Sanchez overcome what I see as his mental blocks going forward now?

    I am just not confident that he can and it is a shame really.....
    That is the issue with suckchez, from the neck down he has the attributes to be a solid qb, maybe even a very good qb. Mentally and mechanically he is a mess. Can he be fixed?!?!?

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    Thanks for the post C Mart. Definitely an informative article.

    A lot of this stuff sounds nice but so did some of the stuff they were selling about Sparano.

    I am going to wait and see what this team looks like in TC before I get my hopes up. The timing and completion % stuff sounds great but if Sanchez or Tebow is going to be the QB you can just throw that out the window IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Brown View Post
    I honestly wish with all my heart that Sanchez had been introduced into this system from the very begining!!!! I truly think he would be fine now...

    Unfortunately I am really concerned about Sanchez's mental appraoch to the game as it now stands.

    The real question is can Sanchez overcome what I see as his mental blocks going forward now?

    I am just not confident that he can and it is a shame really.....
    He needs a viagra type pill to get his confidence up.. He plays like a bully is going to beat him up any second..

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by barkus View Post
    That is the issue with suckchez, from the neck down he has the attributes to be a solid qb, maybe even a very good qb. Mentally and mechanically he is a mess. Can he be fixed?!?!?
    I believe Sanchez will improve and gain a ton of yds through the air ,however why would we bring in an oc who has always been in the lower third of the league in red zone production? The object of the game is to score points. Maybe Rex believes that changing field position is all his defense needs,to school in red zone

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    Quote Originally Posted by DDNYjets View Post
    Thanks for the post C Mart. Definitely an informative article.

    A lot of this stuff sounds nice but so did some of the stuff they were selling about Sparano.

    I am going to wait and see what this team looks like in TC before I get my hopes up. The timing and completion % stuff sounds great but if Sanchez or Tebow is going to be the QB you can just throw that out the window IMO.
    I don't want to sound like a broken record, but there is a very big gap between Sparano's "accomplishments" as a OC/play caller and what Morninwig has done over the past 15 years.

    No comparison, to be honest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Savage69 View Post
    He needs a viagra type pill to get his confidence up.. He plays like a bully is going to beat him up any second..
    I agree with you.

    I have come to the conclusion that it maybe it is to late for Sanchez here in NY/NJ on the Jets. The key is your confidence.

    Everyone can see that Sanchez is scared now, except him... There is no question that Sanchez was FAR more confident and daring as a rookie, with far better mechanics then he has right now.

    Only the Jets do this to players...

    IMO it is similar to a baseball player who has been beaned in the head, some can come back and some can't.

    Can Sanchez physically do it? The answer to that even from those out here who think that he is the worst QB on the planet, is surprizingly... Yes!!

    But the issue is can Sanchez mentally raise his game, which is based in the NFL in part, on one's confidence again? The answer from even his best supports has to be..... No One Knows!!! And perhaps that ship has sailed for good. And as a fan I do not want to feel that way about my starting QB.

    At the end of the day we may have to sit back and see how this one plays out no matter what do to his salarey cap hit.
    Last edited by Charlie Brown; 01-23-2013 at 08:39 AM.

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    Jets will be in the market for a FB that can catch the ball.

    I agree with Charlie Brown, that Mark would be a better player today if he broke in with this Offense, and a OC that knows Offense. Sorry Schotty.

    Santonio could fit in to the WCO nicely, but he's gonna have to work hard, and that worries me.

    Bilal Powell will be very good next year. He's perfect for MM's system.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by RaoulDuke View Post
    Good read, thanks.

    I found this part bizarre



    Doesn't every system have a designed check down on pass plays?
    No. Pass plays that put a RB into a pattern normally do not have a check-down. Also, when you go 4 WR with no back there is no check down.

    I think (but am not sure) that Marty's system runs almost everything from a base set I like this. The more different plays you can run from a base set the more the D has to process to figure out what play you are running. This also would explain why a solid running/pass catching back is essential to the system.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SONNY WERBLIN View Post
    No. Pass plays that put a RB into a pattern normally do not have a check-down. Also, when you go 4 WR with no back there is no check down.

    I think (but am not sure) that Marty's system runs almost everything from a base set I like this. The more different plays you can run from a base set the more the D has to process to figure out what play you are running. This also would explain why a solid running/pass catching back is essential to the system.
    Thanks Sonny.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SONNY WERBLIN View Post
    No. Pass plays that put a RB into a pattern normally do not have a check-down. Also, when you go 4 WR with no back there is no check down.

    I think (but am not sure) that Marty's system runs almost everything from a base set I like this. The more different plays you can run from a base set the more the D has to process to figure out what play you are running. This also would explain why a solid running/pass catching back is essential to the system.
    You're right. They run a lot of plays out of just a few different formations. There isn't a ton of unnecessary pre-snap motion.

    TEs are required to be competent blockers in addition to catching the ball -- the Jets do not have this guy on the roster yet.

    Lex Hilliard would probably be a pretty good fit in this system if they decide to keep him.

    But the system works and has worked for a very long time. It's not a gimmick or a fad, which is nice.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMikeIsHot View Post
    I don't want to sound like a broken record, but there is a very big gap between Sparano's "accomplishments" as a OC/play caller and what Morninwig has done over the past 15 years.

    No comparison, to be honest.
    I completely agree. I was not trying to compare Shades and Marty. Just saying that we heard a lot of great stuff about what Sparano was going to do for this offense (FTR I didn't buy any of it). Unless we upgrade the talent significantly, and get better QB play I don't think it matters who we have as OC.

  19. #19
    Originally Posted by C Mart

    IT'S ABOUT TIMING

    "It was never on a clock. It’s all about the quarterback’s footwork."

    From slants to skinny posts, every route in Mornhinweg’s playbook is based on a timing system with a direct correlation to the type of drop-back a quarterback takes. The drops include:

    Three step, plant and throw.

    Three step, hesitate and throw.

    Five step, plant and throw.

    Five step, hitch and throw.

    Seven step, hitch and throw.

    The goal is to create a quarterback-receiver relationship based more on feel and rhythm. In the past, for example, Mark Sanchez was put on a countdown clock and buzzer in order to get plays off in a certain time. This system would ensure the wideout is working off of a different, more natural indicator to run the route.

    "The series of quarterback-related drills (he does with footwork), I think, are outstanding," Higgins said. "That’s the first thing I did when I arrived in Detroit. Marty pulled me in a room and we went through them all meticulously. Every drill had a name and a goal."
    Kudos to Rex for selecting an OC who mirrors his own mindset. I was so tired of the internal inconsistency of a HC bragging he could stop the run with 11 guys off the street while relying on an O that had to run the ball to be successful. Before he has even coached a game, Marty may already be the best OC the Jets have ever had. I've been trying to think of a better one and all I can come up with is maybe Dan Henning.

    Also, Rex may have also found the only OC capable of resurrecting Sanchez's career. Personally, I had given up on Sanchez by week 6. But a system that relies on rhythm i.e. 5 step throw, may be just what the doctor ordered. I'm very excited about the hiring of Marty. Heck Even Aaron Kolb played well under Marty. Plus, David Lee has a bit of a mad scientist bent to him as well. The Jets have quite a bit of brainpower on the O side of the ball. This should serve them well next season regardless of who wins the QB job.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMikeIsHot View Post
    The Eagles may not have won a ton of games the past few seasons, but they did not have a problem gaining yards, moving the ball from 20 to 20.

    He's a good OC and I think he will help move this offense in the right direction.

    Sanchez might even have a decent year, if he's still here.

    edit:

    JoeJam, the difference between Sparano and Morninwig is that Marty actually has experience as a play caller and is a proven success with most of his teams finishing in the top 10 in offense -- Tony didn't have that on his resume. To put it plainly, Sparano is a joke of a OC and should have never been hired... and I think it will be quite some time before he gets that title from another team.
    Someone that gets it...Add to that Mornhinweg has a history of successfully developing QBs.

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