Jul 27, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) drops back to pass as offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg looks on during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
No, you did not read that headline wrong. And no, it’s not a joke. Let’s all just take a moment and step outside of the cyclone of absurdity that surrounds the Jets, here.
Yes, the team has been a disaster of a franchise the last two seasons, and no, the quarterback drama they surrounded themselves with; first with Tebow and Sanchez, and now Sanchez and Geno didn’t help. But let’s look at one positive note: The Jets’ offense.
Bear with me.
Last season, under Tony Sparano (remember that disaster?), the Jets couldn’t run the ball, and their passing offense was 30th in the league; and they ranked 28th in scoring offense.
So what changed that leads me to think the Jets’ offense will be good this season?
The dismissal of Tony Sparano—who should’ve never been hired as the offensive coordinator.
The Jets went out and hired a real offensive coordinator this offseason, getting old-school West Coast offense disciple Marty Mornhinweg. Before joining the Jets, Mornhinweg was the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator for the past seven seasons; out of those seven seasons, the Eagles offense ranked in the top 10 five times. He’s known to be a quarterback guru, and after this past season’s quarterback debacle, his expertise will be of great help to the struggling Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith.
Hiring Mornhinweg is a change in identity for a team that claimed it was a ground and pound offense–even though they didn’t particularly run the ball well. With the new offensive coordinator, the Jets will change to a West Coast offense, meaning it will be a pass-heavy offense filled with short, quick throws designed to attack the defense’s soft spots.
Aug 24, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) drops back to pass in front of New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) during warmups before a game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The starting quarterback has to work on his footwork and decision-making because this system is based on timing. The system relies on the quarterback-receiver relationship, so Sanchez, or whoever, has to get on the same page with the receivers and work on their chemistry and rhythm. The new offense has a lot of slants, skinny posts, and out routes. So that means that the quarterback will have much more success in completing passes. The plays are simple, more safe and also has check-down options. But, at the same time, Mornhinweg likes to take his shots down field as well. From 2010-11, Mornhinweg’s Eagles were in the top 10 in passing plays of 20 yards or more. So it’s not all about the dinks and dunks for him. If it’s there, he will not hesitate to pull the trigger and ask for the shots down field. And that may develop after all those dinks and dunks.
So what does this mean for the Jets? Mornhinweg can install an actual, functioning offense that can score points.
As a case in point, let’s take a look at last year’s preseason. In four preseason games last year, the Jets scored only one touchdown struggling to move the ball. This season, in three preseason games, the Jets have scored nine touchdowns (third in the league); scoring an average of 26 points per game, which ranks fifth in the league, and they’re averaging 301.7 yards in the passing game—second best in the league. Yes, it’s only the preseason, but there’s no denying that the Jets’ offense has made some major improvements compared to last year’s preseason performances.
Now all the Jets have to do is figure out who their starting quarterback will be and keep those performances going.