Coordinators provide an invaluable service. While the head coach basically serves as the CEO to the football team, coordinators implement the plan of action, finding the best way to use the talent they have, to achieve the desired results. Marty Mornhinweg does his job with his version of the “West Coast offense”. When it has worked, the Jets offense has scored points, even without any top weapons.
However, almost every offensive coordinator suffers from the same disease. The disease is over-thinking. Offensive coordinators are notorious for getting too creative. They take the game plan, and instead of following it, and letting their players play, they try to “out-think” the other team.
We talked about it a lot when Brian Schottenheimer was here. He was a creative guy, put a lot of thought into detailed offensive plays and game plans. However, instead of letting his players play, he would go crazy with his game plans, trying to beat the other team on the game plan rather than on the field. Nearly 60 Mark Sanchez passes on Christmas 2011 was clear evidence of that.
Marty Mornhinweg has been stricken with the same disease. His, however, manifested a little bit differently. He was guilty of sticking too much to the script, rather than following the flow of the game. Sunday’s game, and his use of Chris Ivory tells the story.
The Jets, like many other teams, have employed the “Running Back by Committee” approach, meaning that they split the carries between more than one running back. Many teams use it when they don’t have a “bell-cow” type of back to carry the ball 25 times per game. It’s a great system to keep backs fresh, and keep the defense confused. However, coordinators have to be careful about sticking with that system, when one of the running backs has the hot hand.
In the first half of the game, Ivory carried the ball six times for 46 yards, an average of over seven yards per carry. The game was still in doubt, with the score 16-6. It was not at a point where the Jets had to give up on running the football. The point is, Ivory is running the football well, give him the rock! These running backs improve as they get the football. They get a feel for their line, what’s open, where they can run…etc. Taking them out hampers their ability to be successful.
However, in the second half, while the game was still in doubt, Chris Ivory carried the ball four times. Four! Furthermore, Ivory never carried the ball on two straight plays all game long. Why? If a running back is playing well, don’t take him out! The more they carry the ball, the stronger they get. But yet, after a good carry by Chris Ivory, in would come Bilal Powell. Did Powell perform OK? Yes. But he wasn’t performing to Ivory’s level.
What Marty was doing was keeping both guys fresh, the way a “running back by committee” system works. That’s fine, and it is a good system. But when one running back is performing, give him the ball. He has to get the ball in order to keep in rhythm.
Marty Mornhinweg is a great coordinator. He is getting as much out of this Jets’ offense as anyone could be expected to. But he has to be careful of the disease. This game in instinctual. Instead of over-thinking, just go by your instinct. Do that, and the rest will take care of itself.
Words to the wise for Marty Mornhinweg, and all offensive coordinators.