This seems like an odd move on the surface.
I’m not about to compare Morton with the best offensive minds in the game. He hadn’t been on the job long enough to earn that type of praise. Like any coordinator, he showed some flaws in his first year on the job.
With that said, it’s difficult to figure what more Morton could have done. He was handed a roster with one of the worst quarterback situations and overall offensive personnel in the league. The fact the Jets looked functional most weeks on offense before Josh McCown got hurt speaks to the solid job Morton did.
This cuts against any desire for stability.
When the Jets gave extensions to Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan shortly before the end of the regular season, stability was a word that frequently came up. There was plenty of talk that the Jets wanted to avoid constant change in their facility.
Replacing an offensive coordinator does not bring the same degree of upheaval as firing a coach or a general manager, but it is a fairly dramatic move. The Jets will now be installing their third offensive system in three years. That doesn’t scream stability.
This firing doesn’t reflect well on Todd Bowles.
The Jets made an offensive coordinator change after the 2016 season. The fact the team is looking for a new coordinator again just one year later speaks to a failure in last year’s decision.
Rich Cimini provided some insight into why the Jets moved on from Morton.
#Jets decision to part ways with OC John Morton comes as no surprise. As I reported at the end of the season, some players had issues with him. Also some philosophical differences with Todd Bowles.— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) January 17, 2018
Morton's performance wasn't bad, but he turned off some players. He also wasn't beloved among the coaches. The Jets will have their sixth coordinator in 8 years. Talk about a lack of continuity. #Jets— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) January 17, 2018
When you have to get rid of a guy after one year whether due to performance, personality, or philosophy, the hiring process has to come under scrutiny. What did the Jets miss when they interviewed Morton?
The part about philosophical differences with Bowles is particularly striking. How did Bowles not figure out he and Morton had differing philosophies? It would be one thing if they had worked together for like five years. People change over time. They get new ideas. Sometimes they drift apart. This is one year later, though. If Bowles couldn’t find somebody who shared his philosophy last time, why would anybody believe he can this time?
This was not an attractive opening a year ago, and it is still not an attractive opening.
In some ways the Jets had to settle for Morton because other candidates were either unavailable or uninterested. The Jets will eventually hire somebody, and there will be some very good options. Some people who have options might not be interested, though. The quarterback situation remains unresolved. With the Jets picking sixth in the upcoming Draft, any candidate has to know that the team might not be able to land his Draft prospect. If you don’t have a quarterback in place an offensive coordinator job becomes inherently riskier, and even with Bowles’ extension it is unknown how much more patience ownership will have with this coaching staff after back-to-back five win seasons.
The timeline of events makes sense...if the Jets hire Todd Haley.
Haley and Bowles have worked together at multiple stops in their coaching careers. Haley just became available today. It is possible the team was waiting for that moment and then made a move just a few hours later.
If the Jets don’t end up hiring Haley, it opens up a lot of questions. This firing could have happened the day after the season ended. It would be strange for the Jets to delay things two and a half weeks. Perhaps that is a sign Haley is a strong candidate.
The Jets might be better off without Morton in the long run.
While Morton did a solid job in his one year as offensive coordinator, there were some concerns about his long-term viability. They dealt mainly with quarterbacks, where he lacks much of a background. With the Jets likely to draft a new signal-caller, would they want to entrust development to an inexperienced hand? Morton’s offense was also complicated, which made it less than ideal for a rookie.
There are some big fish out there the Jets could land who could potentially provide an upgrade.
No matter how this turns out, Morton probably deserved better.
We can’t say what happened behind the scenes, but Morton took the Jets offensive coordinator job a year ago when it was very unappealing with no promises he would have decent personnel.
It was a bad situation, and the offseason moves the team made did little to improve it. The Jets had a deficit of talent at quarterback and through the entire offense. For what faults he had, I’m not sure Morton could have done much to make the offense more effective.