One of the Jets' most significant offseason decisions was finding the right offensive coordinator and Saints head coach Sean Payton believes Todd Bowles scored big with the addition of John Morton.
"Johnny Mo, he's very prepared," Payton said Wednesday at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix, AZ. "You're going to be impressed with him."
Morton was Payton's offensive assistant/passing game coach in 2006 when the Saints advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
"John's the type to go break down and research and dig and he's going to present," Payton said of Morton's role more than a decade ago. "He's one of two or three guys, but he's going to have 12 or 14 play thoughts when it's red zone or 12 or 14 play thoughts on third down. They're well thought out with film evidence and I might like three of them and not the other eight. And yet he's going to come back with the same energy and the same passion for the next category."
Payton enjoyed working with Morton so much that he brought him back to serve as the Saints WR coach the past two seasons.
"He's going to work his tail off. We had two, three in the morning nights during the year — that's just how it is," Payton said. "But he's a fantastic teacher. He knows the offense. He's going to look closely at the personnel, making sure the offense is built around the ingredient and it's not the other way. He'll do a good job of assessing with the staff, hey, here are our strengths and let's play to them."
While Morton served as Pete Carroll's offensive coordinator at USC in 2009, this will be the first time he'll be in charge of the play-calling at the pro level. Payton recalled today when he was given the play-calling assignment against the Jets in Week 13 of the 1999 season. The Giants captured that contest 41-28 and Payton is still calling the offensive shots nearly 20 years later.
"It's his first opportunity and I think he'll do a real good job. I said this to him that there's no better city than New York to go have success as a play-caller," Payton said. "You go in there and make an impression. It happened to me in 1999, the first chance having the opportunity to call plays. It was right in the middle of the season. I think it was a Jets game, it was Parcells, it was Belichick and I was young. Those are good memories and good opportunities."
Morton, who has worked on offensive staffs for Jon Gruden, Jim Harbaugh and Payton, is a notorious grinder who was known to get a few winks at the Saints "sleep room" that consisted of eight bunk beds at the team's facility. Payton describes the new Jets OC as meticulous, willing to go the extra mile to get the job done right.
A day after Todd Bowles said the Jets will have an open competition at quarterback, Payton delivered a message that they have an impressive coordinator leading the unit.
"Most importantly it's going to be who's playing quarterback," Payton said of the Jets offense. "Has that been solved? But I think you guys will be impressed. I think he's a tremendous football coach."