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What Does Marty Mornhinweg Mean to the Quarterback Situation?

By Alan Schechter
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Dec 19, 2012; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez (6), and Greg McElroy (14) and Tim Tebow (15) run past head coach Rex Ryan during practice at the Jets training facility. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest issues for the Jets heading into the 2013 season, now that a general manager and offensive coordinator are in place, is the quarterback situation. More to the point, who is going to be the quarterback come 2013? A big part of that decision is the system that the Jets are going to run. That is where Marty Mornhinweg comes in. Let’s talk a little bit more about what he does, and how that applies to the current cast of characters the Jets have at quarterback.

Marty Mornhinweg is a descendant of the Bill Walsh coaching tree, which means he runs a derivation of the “West Coast” offense. Let’s give a basic description of how it works. Basically, instead of using the run to open up the pass, it uses the short and intermediate passes to open up the run game. Most of the routes in this system are run within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage. They are timing based, horizontal routes, as opposed to “going vertical”, or down the field. Each play typically has 4-5 options available in it, the theory being that more options will be out in the passing lanes, cris-crossing, than the defense will be able to cover. It opens up running lanes and the deeper passes because with running and passing plays available at any down or distance, the defense has more to deal with than just looking for standard run plays on running downs, and passing plays on passing down. When run well, it is more of an unpredictable offense.

They also typically script 15-25 plays at the beginning of each game. Walsh would script 25, while most of his disciples reduced that to scripting 15 plays per game. The scripting gives the offense confidence going into each ball game, knowing what they are going to run early. They can practice it, and feel good about it.

How does it affect these quarterbacks? It gives them all the opportunities in the world, but yet is tough on them as well. I will explain what I mean on the next page.

Dec 30, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) passes the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 28-9. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, none of the quarterbacks on this roster have shotgun arms. They don’t have the biggest guns you have ever seen. Tim Tebow probably throws the best deep ball of any quarterback on the roster, but we all know that the odds are not great that he will be on the roster. We can’t assume free agents/trades, so we are going to talk strictly about the guys on the team. Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy are not know for having rocket arms. But the unique thing about the West Coast system is you don’t NEED a rocket arm to run it. The system is adaptable to all types of quarterbacks, as it has gone through Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre, Michael Vick, and many others. The system is one that you can really adapt to your talent.

But, there are two requirements of the West Coast system that could pose a problem to the current Jets quarterbacks. The first is that it requires accuracy. For the system to work at its peak, you aren’t throwing to a player, as much as you are throwing to a spot. The system is based on timing, where you are making throws based on where a guy is GOING to be, not where he IS. With that, you have to be dead on with your accuracy. Anyone that has watched the Jets knows that Mark Sanchez has a bit of trouble with that topic. By the end of 2012, he was about as inaccurate a quarterback as we have ever seen. Frankly, we haven’t seen enough of Greg McElroy to know how accurate he really is on a consistent basis, and if by some stretch of the imagination Tim Tebow is still here, he is not too accurate either. That’s a problem, obviously.

Secondly, it requires excellent ability to read the defenses and coverages. You, as the quarterback, have to know who the open guy is going to be. You have to recognize the open spots in the zone, and the one on one matchups in man to man. We have seen, time and time again, Mark Sanchez’s difficulties in reading coverages. We can see it on film, the mistakes he makes. Again, we haven’t seen enough of Greg, and if Tim is here, it’s a problem for him as well.

So, Mornhinweg is here. Each quarterback has a shot to lead this team, but this system could be a problem for any of them as well. Will they sign a quarterback? We will see soon enough.

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