Before the start of the NFL season, there were a lot of critics out there that wrote the New York Jets off, ranking them No. 32 in the power rankings. What were their reasons? Analysts said that with turnover-prone quarterback Mark Sanchez behind center, the team wouldn’t go anywhere; analysts also said the team lacked playmakers on offense, and on paper, these analysts were right. They also said the defense wouldn’t be the same since they had a lot of new faces on defense, but that’s for another time.
With a lot of changes in the offseason, a quarterback dilemma and a lack of playmakers, did that justify a No. 32 ranking? It did not. And nine weeks into the season, the Jets have proven doubters wrong.
Yes, there is a new quarterback in town (read: rookie quarterback Geno Smith), and he’s definitely had his growing pains, but this team is nowhere near being the worst team in the league. For starters, as long as Rex Ryan is in control of the defense, the Jets’ defensive unit will be tough. So that leaves the Jets’ offense — a unit that struggled mightily the past couple of seasons.
The Jets went out and got a new offensive coordinator after the debacle that was 2013. They got one that would help them right the ship, no matter who was behind center. That coordinator is old-school West Coast offense disciple, Marty Mornhinweg.
Was he the right choice? Before we look at how he’s improved the offense so far, let’s first look at what he was bringing to the table.
Before arriving in New York, Mornhinweg was the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator the past seven seasons. In those years, Mornhinweg’s offense ranked in the top-10 five times, also helping mold Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick into top quarterbacks. So, with time, he will be able to help Geno Smith, or whoever the starting quarterback is down the road.
Mornhinweg brings a breath of fresh air from the old “ground and pound” that Rex Ryan preached. Yes, the West Coast offense focuses on timing, a lot on slants, out routes and skinny posts (high-percentage throws), but Mornhinweg isn’t afraid to take shots down the field either, as we’ve seen Smith do throughout the first half of the season.
Now let’s take a look at how the Jets offense did in the first half of the season.
Through eight games, the Jets rank 17th in total yards; 22nd in passing yards, averaging 210 yards per game. The Jets run-game ranks 13th, averaging 120 yards per game. Last season, the Jets passing offense ranked 31st, averaging 189 yards per game through the air. Although it isn’t a drastic improvement, it is an improvement and the team is taking steps in the right direction — and that’s due to Mornhinweg. With more time and patience, Smith and the Jets can light up the scoreboard and be a threat on offense.
Now wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air?