Marty Mornhinweg and his Poor Game Plan for the Steelers


Aug 3, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg (left) talks with head coach Rex Ryan during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get me wrong, in Marty I trust. Marty Mornhinweg is the perfect fit to make this team go. His play calling is light-years ahead of Tony Sparano, and he puts his players in a position to succeed, better than Brian Schottenheimer ever could.

His mentorship of Geno Smith, combined with that of David Lee, is setting Geno to become a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. That is all true. But, Marty Mornhinweg is also human.

What do I mean? Offensive coordinators all run into the problem, at one time or another, of over thinking. They get an idea that they need to have the “perfect game plan” for a particular opponent, and nine times out of ten, this causes the game plan to be more of a problem than a help. There was evidence of this on Sunday against the Steelers.

First, there was the lack of downfield passing. Where was it? I don’t recall a shot down field all day, other than the one where he just missed hitting Stephen Hill for a big gain. All the rest were short, intermediate pass routes, and it allowed the defense to move up since they didn’t have to worry about the bombs.

In two out of the three wins in 2013, Geno averaged over ten yards per pass. Against the Falcons, Geno averaged over 11 yards per pass attempt. Geno has been near the top of the league at throwing the deep ball. So, did Marty let Geno take his shots? No. There was one shot down the field.

There was also an over-abundance of screen passes on Sunday. Somebody mentioned that at one point, they attempted three straight screen passes! Three straight! Why? Did the Jets actually think that Dick Lebeau would not figure out how to stop a play, when it is run three times in a row? Doubt it.

Typically, you run screen passes to slow down your opponent’s pass rush. They realize that they have to defend the short pass right over their heads, so they don’t come as fast. After reviewing the league sack stats, guess who is at the bottom of the league? The Steelers! After Sunday, they are ranked 31st out 32 teams with seven sacks.

Remember, they got to Geno Smith three times on Sunday. So, how many sacks did the Steelers have heading INTO the game against the Jets? Four! That’s how many, four! Hey Marty, what pass rush are you slowing down? The one from years ago? The invisible. So far in 2013, the Steelers don’t have a pass rush that needs to be slowed down.

Why do it? Marty is overthinking.

Every offensive coordinator is guilty of this practice at one time or another. They start to “tinker”, adjust, plan, …etc., and they get too far inside their heads. They think that the perfect game plan design is what is needed to win when at times, all they should be doing is letting their players play.

Marty, let Geno do his thing. He can’t learn everything he needs to learn if he is kept under wraps. Let him play, it will hurt sometimes, but we wlll be better in the long run for it.