New Jets offensive coordinator John Morton’s reputation precedes him. He is a relentless worker who sometimes doesn’t make it out of the facility.
“He’d be the first guy off the bus on the Gruden Grinder bus stop tour,” said ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden. “He is a guy who would beat you to work every day and he would stay later than you would stay. I don’t think there’s any other reason than John Morton that Sean Payton made up these sleep rooms. He had to have a room for Johnny Morton to get a wink.”
Morton spent the past two seasons under Payton in New Orleans, mentoring a talented young receiver group. But he got his NFL coaching start with the Raiders from 1998-99, serving as Gruden’s WR coach. He also was Gruden’s offensive quality control coach in 2000 before he moved back to the Raiders wideouts in 2001.
“He and David Shaw, who now is the head coach at Stanford, were up and coming guys. All he did was study protections, route combinations, coverage beaters and individual drills to help his receivers get better,” said Gruden of Morton. “He helped me tremendously, self-scouting the opponents, coming up with new formations to run the same play from. Creative mind, he took advantage of some great people that were not only on the Raiders staff but in New Orleans, San Francisco. He’s prepared himself well.”
In addition to the four seasons under Gruden, Morton compiled three seasons alongside Payton in New Orleans and five seasons with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh in both the NFL and in college. A member of the USC staff from 2007-11, Morton was Pete Carroll’s offensive coordinator in 2009.
“Veteran players will appreciate him because he’s old school. If he wants the outside foot back on the outside edge of the numbers and he wants a three-step slant and he wants you to cross space at a friendly 45 degree angle, then that’s what you better do,” Gruden said. “And if he wants a double-move release, you better get it done. What you see on film is what you coach. That’s kind of the world he comes from — effort, details, fundamentals, discipline. I think he’s going to be a stickler for that and I don’t think he’s always going to be a nice guy if things aren’t going toward that direction. He is going to be a stickler for the details, he’s a disciplined guy and real pro players appreciate that.”
Just two weeks with the Jets, Morton is now heading up an offensive staff that has a mix of holdovers and newcomers. Gruden praises Morton’s presence and believes he will get everyone headed in the same direction.
“Get everybody get on the same page, prepare properly and then present the game plan to the players and blow their socks off,” he said of Morton’s first steps. “Get them excited about the offense you’re putting in. But he’s got to get his staff on the same page number one and he’s got to get ready for these OTAs which are right around the corner. I have great confidence that he’ll be good with people, he’ll be great with his staff. And if they can get on the same page and get excited about their offensive direction, that will transfer to the players quite well.”
While Gruden says there are still questions to be solved about the Jets offensive personnel, he is confident Morton will adjust and do a quality job as he takes the offensive reins.
“John Morton is going to be able to adapt his offense to the personnel that he has. He might not have a Pro Bowl quarterback. He might not have a Pro Bowl receiver,” he said. “I don’t know what the personnel is going to be, but he’ll be able to adapt based on what he has whether than means they’re going to be an I-formation team or a no-back team, that will be announced once Todd Bowles and the Jets figure out who is going to make this roster.”