New York Jets Offensive Coordinator John Morton has never held the position before in the NFL. With his experience at this level mostly coming from coaching wide receivers, it is difficult to project what his offense will look like. That’s why I looked at the limited film available from his time as an OC at USC to gain a better understanding of what fans might see on the field…
Two more factors complicate the assessment of what Morton will do as an offensive coordinator:
- The last and only time he held the title was at USC in 2009.
- While he had equal input into the game plan, Jeremy Bates the quarterbacks coach, called the plays.
New York’s offense was largely run out of the shotgun the past two seasons. Of the snaps I watched, however, USC quarterback Matt Barkley was under center the overwhelming majority of the time. Fans will likely become accustomed to seeing five-step drops again. In addition, empty sets were rare and Barkley frequently used quarterback sneaks to convert on third-and-short.
Return of the play-action
The Jets were 30th last season in play-action plays. USC’s tape, though, illustrates it was a more active element of the offense. Add this to the fact that the Saints were third in such attempts and Morton comes from a West Coast offense background, and it is safe to believe play-action will be crucial to the team’s passing attack.
Tight ends and fullback
This position was forgotten when Chan Gailey was leading the offense, partially due to talent. USC’s tight end, Anthony McCoy, had 22 catches for 457 yards and a touchdown in 2009. So while he certainly was not the focus of the offense, he played a bigger role than the 10 catches Austin Sefarian-Jenkins accumulated this year. It should be noted that Stanley Havili, a fullback, played extensively and accumulated 22 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans as well.
If the Jets can find a competent tight end, look for plays down the seam.
It was not uncommon for USC to put two tight ends in the game (or one tight end and a fullback), max protect and look to complete a pass deep downfield. You’ll see this later in the article. Only three times did the Trojans play without a tight tend of the film I saw. Moreover, it had two tight ends in the game frequently. Usually the player was inline, but sometimes the individual was playing as an h-back. It was rare, though, to have McCoy split out wide.
One play USC used was lining up two tight ends on the same side to have the one playing off the line of scrimmage pull like a guard.
USC had a two-man rushing attack in 2009. Joe McKnight had 164 attempts while Allen Bradford had 115. A shared workload would be a welcome sight after the Jets spent much of the season featuring Matt Forte and forgetting Bilal Powell.
Morton would be wise to use the “V” route seen above by McKnight with Powell. As far as run-pass balance, USC ran the ball nearly 54 percent of the time. It might have passed more, however, if quarterback Matt Barkley was not a freshman. Many deemed him college ready out of high school, though.
It is interesting to note that the Trojans did not run a lot of plays. It averaged 64 a game, seven less than their opponents and more than only nine teams in college football.
Due to Morton’s lack of play-calling experience, it is difficult to say whether he will be an aggressive or conservative play-caller…that’s a question that won’t be answered until the season starts.
Photo Credit: Saints.com