The New York Jets hired Marty Mornhinweg (above) to be their offensive coordinator this offseason, mostly because he would bring new ideas and a new style of offense to the Jets. The team had one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL last season, and Mornhinweg and West Coast offense were supposed to fix that.
Through two games, Mornhinweg has lived up to his reputation, as the Jets have heavily favored the pass. In Week 1, the Jets called 50 pass plays (counting pass attempts, sacks and quarterback scrambles) and just 23 run plays. The trend continued in Week 2, as the Jets called 42 passes and 29 runs.
There is nothing wrong with being a pass dominant team, and in fact many teams believe it is the best way to win. That being said, in order to be pass dominant, passing needs to be your strength. In Week 1 it was, as the Jets couldn’t get anything going on the ground against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The problem came in Week 2 against the New England Patriots. The Jets’ run game, particularly Chris Ivory, had been effective all game, right up until Mornhinweg inexplicably abandoned the run in the fourth quarter. The Jets were in a close game on the road, with a rookie quarterback in the rain. That entire situation demands that the offense focus on the run, even more so when you consider the effectiveness of the ground game to that point.
Mornhinweg’s decision to abandon the run very well may have cost the Jets the game, as Geno Smith struggled to move the ball through the air. The Patriots took advantage of the predictable play calling and attacked Smith, who turned the ball over three times. If the Jets have fed the ball to Ivory and Bilal Powell, they might have been able to control the clock and take the lead.
Equally concerning, at various points throughout both of the Jets’ first two games, Mornhinweg has called passing plays on third and short when the run has been working. The Jets traded for Ivory specifically because he is a power back who can pick up tough yards, and not using him on third and short makes no sense.
Mornhinweg is a coach who prefers the pass, and the Jets are going to air it out more often than not. However, he must pay more attention to the run, and he must have the patience to stick with it. The best way for the Jets to win is when they can control the clock and protect the ball.
Last week showed that the rushing attack is capable of doing those things, and now the onus is on Mornhinweg to call the plays that put the Jets in the best position to succeed.