Ending three weeks of speculation, the New York Jets fired offensive coordinator John Morton after only one season, the team announced Wednesday.
Coach Todd Bowles praised Morton at the end of the season, saying he was “happy with John and everything he did this year,” but Bowles ultimately decided to make the move because of philosophical differences, sources said.
Bowles felt Morton was too pass-reliant, a sentiment echoed in the locker room. Several players were unhappy with his playcalling throughout the season, ESPN reported on Jan. 1. He “thinks we’re the New Orleans Saints, playing in a dome,” one player said, alluding to Morton’s previous team.
Members of the coaching staff also clashed with Morton, sources said. They expressed concern about his ability to design and execute a consistent running game.
The breaking point might have been the Week 12 home loss to the Carolina Panthers, during which the Jets failed to score a touchdown after three incomplete passes in a row from the 1-yard line. Bowles was furious with the playcalling, sources said.
“We appreciate John’s contributions and wish him the best moving forward,” Bowles said in a statement.
Two potential replacements already have emerged: Jets quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates and former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.
Bates is highly-regarded in the Jets organization.
Bowles has ties to Haley; they worked together under Bill Parcells for the Dallas Cowboys in 2005 and 2006. On Wednesday, the Steelers announced they weren’t renewing Haley’s contract.
The Jets also have interest in Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, whose contract is expiring. DeFilippo could be a tough get because he’s a candidate for the Arizona Cardinals‘ head-coaching vacancy.
This will be Bowles’ third coordinator in four years and the team’s sixth in the past eight years. He started with Chan Gailey, who retired after the 2016 season. He hired Morton after a failed attempt to lure DeFilippo away from the Eagles.
Morton stepped into a difficult situation. The offense was in transition, with journeyman Josh McCown at quarterback. The Jets finished 24th in scoring and 28th in total yards, with McCown enjoying a career year.
The offense took an ugly turn when McCown suffered a season-ending hand injury. His replacement, Bryce Petty, struggled, as the Jets scored only 32 points in their final four games.