The Jets made it official yesterday, but the decision was hardly a surprising. After just one season the Jets fired John Morton as their offensive coordinator. The decision did surprise many on the outside, but for those that were paying attention this was expected.
Morton had received praise for his work with the Jets, but most of that praise was merely an acknowledgment of what little talent he had to work with. Morton deserves credit for installing some Air Raid concepts (though how much credit he deserves we’re not sure, more on that later) that got the most out of the limited ability of Josh McCown, but Morton also received plenty of criticism. Most importantly a lot of that criticism came from inside the building at One Jets Drive.
The focus was on Matt Forte who complained about the offense relying too much on a passing attack and not enough on the running game after a loss to the Falcons, but that Forte spoke out wasn’t the important part of the story. Forte likely won’t be back next year so the notion that the Jets got rid of Morton because of Forte is in fact ridiculous, but when you think about why Forte spoke out and why it was him that did so then all of a sudden it starts to make sense. Besides Forte the Jets only had a handful of veterans with the clout to speak out on the offense, Bilal Powell and James Carpenter could have but they barely talk to the media. McCown would never criticize a coach, Jermaine Kearse would probably feel more comfortable with it but he was new, Austin Seferian-Jenkins went out of his way to avoid criticizing refs so he certainly wasn’t going to take a shot at his offensive coordinator. This left Forte to be the spokesman for the group, yes Forte was the one to go public with the criticism but don’t for a second think he was the only one doing so privately.
Consider what Brian Costello of the New York Post reported, “the skill position players on offense felt he only schemed for (Robby) Anderson and everyone else was a check-down option. Anderson was targeted 114 times this season, most on the team.” Your first reaction to this could simply be, ‘yeah, but Anderson was clearly the best offensive weapon the Jets had this year,” and of course you would be correct, but then take this into consideration as well.
That’s the Jets announcing the decision on Instagram, that chosen1ra name you see circled in red there is Robby Anderson (h/t to @JetsTank for noticing this on Twitter). You can feel free to brush this off like it’s nothing if you’d like, but this is definitely one of those “if there’s smoke there’s fire situations.” Morton did some things well, he did some thing wrong, but most importantly he didn’t get along with the people inside the building. He clashed with Todd Bowles, he clashed with other assistants and the players were not found of him to say the least and then there’s also the belief that quarterbacks coach Jeremey Bates was as responsible for the offensive scheme as Morton was and it’s easy to see why Bowles wanted to move on.
So who will Bowles pick as his third offensive coordinator in his fourth year? It will almost certainly be one of five people; current quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, former Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin or Lions quarterback coach Brian Callahan.
The Jets would absolutely love to get DeFilippo, they wanted to hire him last year but the Eagles denied permission to even interview him because he was still under contract but his contract is up after the season so the Eagles can’t prevent him from moving on this year. But DeFilippo is getting a lot of attention from other teams and will have plenty of options, including a possible shot at the Cardinals head coaching job, so the feeling seems to be the Jets won’t be able to land him.
The Jets would also be more than comfortable handing the reins over to Bates, but Bates has reportedly balked at the opportunity and he might simply be more comfortable remaining as the quarterbacks coach. But if he wants the job, it’s his to have.
Haley makes sense, he’s a well respected offensive mind that has done excellent work as a coordinator throughout his career and he and Bowles have a relationship from having spent time on the same coaching staffs before. Goodwin would make sense as well and would obviously come with a strong recommendation from former Cardinals coach, and Bowles Boss, Bruce Arians and Callahan is another coach that the Jets tried to interview for the offensive coordinator job last year but were denied by the Lions.
The timing of the news would lead everyone to think that Haley could be the choice, but it could also be that Haley becoming available gives Bowles another backup option if he can’t get who he really wants or it could simply be a coincidence.
Most likely the job will go to DeFilippo or Bates if they want it, if not then Haley or Goodwin. Haley has the better resume, but this is the NFL so that recommendation from Arians could end up carrying the most weight.
Chris Nimbley is the editor-in-chief of JetsInsider.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)