Marty Mornhinweg: Don’t Fall into the Coordinator Trap


Aug 22, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg on the bench against the New York Giants during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Giants defeated the Jets 35-24. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Schottenheimer had a problem. A lot of coordinators have had this problem in the past. They fall into a trap of getting “too cute”, or trying to outsmart themselves. Instead of sticking with what is working, they try to be extra smart, and trying unnecessary “gadgets” to outsmart the defense. Nine times out of ten, it doesn’t work out.

There were signs this past Sunday of Marty Mornhinweg falling into that same trap.

Yesterday, our staff writer Paul Newbold wrote an excellent piece on Mornhinweg, calling him an “Offensive Genius“.  Please take a look at it, is a great piece, as Paul always puts out on our website.  He is an insightful, and intellectual Jets fan.  If you don’t read his articles, you should start, as you are missing out.

On this, I am going to take a slightly different take on the performance of Mornhinweg.

While I agree with throwing the book at the other team to give them a lot to think about, it doesn’t need to be done in the red zone.  You don’t have a lot of field to work with, so there isn’t a lot of room for tricks.  Down deep, you want to bring in your big running back, pound the football, and get seven points.  Let me show you what I mean.

Remember the play where Vick missed an open Eric Decker in the end zone?  Let’s look at the drive for a minute.  In that drive, between designed handoffs and scrambles, the Jets ran the ball four times for 25 yards, an average of 6.25 yards per carry.  Geno hit four different receivers on the drive, as he led the Jets down to the Oakland four yard line.  At this point, Mornhinweg has the Raiders’ defense totally off-balance.  The Jets are running the ball with authority, and they are passing the ball to a variety of wide receivers.

Take a look at this guy for a second:

Sep 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back

Chris Ivory

(33) runs for a 71-yard touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during the fourth quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Raiders 19-14. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Ivory, ladies and gentlemen, is a big dude. He was built for goaline and short yardage situations. The Jets were dominating the line of scrimmage. wouldn’t it be wise to let your linemen fire out, give the ball to Ivory, and let him stomp someone on his way to the endzone? Or, what about your quarterback? Geno Smith was in a groove at this point. At the four yard line, instead of taking the ball out of his hands with a trick play, LET THE KID PLAY!

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But that wasn’t what happened. Instead, Mornhinweg calls for a direct snap to Chris Johnson, and a flip to Michael Vick to throw a pass. Michael Vick is cold. He missed a wide open Eric Decker. Is that really a surprise? How can you ask the backup quarterback to come in cold and make a throw like that, on the run? If you want to try that, to keep the defense thinking of everything, call that in the middle of the field. The play could have ended in disaster in the redzone, and could have changed the whole complexion of the game.

We are lucky the Raiders just aren’t any good. A play like that against a good team will come back to haunt Mornhinweg.

Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, I love the game Mornhinweg called on Sunday. But, it wasn’t all great. Some of his decisions were sketchy, and in the future, could be costly.

So what do you guys think? Do you agree with Paul, that the tricks deep in the Raiders’ end were smart? Or do you think, as I do, that they were too much? Let’s debate.