Marty Mornhinweg: How Offensive Coordinator Will Impact Maligned Jets Offense
It seems as if the New York Jets have found the next man tasked with the responsibility of making Mark Sanchez a franchise quarterback. According to NFL.com's Adam Caplan, the Jets have hired former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to take over the same position:
Caplan (@caplannfl) January 18, 2013
Taking over for the fired Tony Sparano, Mornhinweg will be tasked with fixing one of the NFL's worst offenses. The Jets ranked 30th in yards gained and 28th in points scored this past season, finishing the season 6-10 and putting just about everyone's job in jeopardy.
In fact, the most notable offensive storyline in New York was the use (or lack thereof) of Tim Tebow. Though the controversial quarterback is expected to be jettisoned this offseason, Mornhinweg will still have to work on fixing a broken passing game.
What should Jets fans expect from their new offensive coordinator? Here are a few notable things about Mornhinweg's coaching style.
Pass-Heavy, West Coast System
Throughout Rex Ryan's tenure in the Big Apple, the Jets have been known for two things: a ferocious, blitz-heavy defense and a relatively low-scoring offense. Since taking over in 2009, Ryan has employed offensive coordinators that have treated Mark Sanchez with kid gloves, employing consistently run-reliant schemes.
Over the past four seasons, the Jets have not thrown the ball on any more than 57 percent of their plays—and even that rate, which came in 2011, was an aberration. In three of the four years Ryan has been the head coach, the Jets have been in the bottom six of pass rate.
Consequently, the Jets have never finished higher than 22nd in passing yards and have finished in the bottom half of the league in every season in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric.
Expect all of those facts to change under Mornhinweg. Employing a pass-first, West Coast offensive scheme, the Eagles have continually ranked among the NFL's most pass-heavy offenses.
Despite employing Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, two talents who seem better served in a run-heavy scheme, Philadelphia ranked inside the top 10 in pass percentage in three of the past four years.
Now let's not confuse pass-happy with effective. The Eagles' highest passing DVOA over the past four seasons is 12th, and they ranked 26th this past season.
In other words, folks, look for a ton of Sanchez drop-backs in 2013. Whether he'll be effective in those situations remains very much up in the air.
It's tough to cast aspersions on an offensive coordinator before he even walks into camp. It's wholly possible that he walks into the Big Apple a changed man, one who will adopt Ryan's belief in conservatism on offense and employ another run-heavy system.
Nonetheless, we have enough of a sample size with Mornhinweg as a play-caller to know one thing: His offenses aren't very good inside the opponents' 20-yard-line.
Since taking over the Eagles' offensive coordinator job, the team has ranked no higher than 12th in red-zone touchdown percentages—and that ranking came in 2006. Last season, Philadelphia ranked 28th in red-zone scoring chances, coming away with a touchdown on a mere 44.0 percent of the time.
Even under Sparano, the Jets finished nearly five percentage points higher.
Mornhinweg's offense was especially putrid in goal-to-go situations. Per Football Outsiders, the Eagles' finished with the NFL's worst DVOA in goal-to-go opportunities, producing a whopping 72.2 percent less value than a replacement-level team would in those situations.
For reference, the next worst team was the San Diego Chargers. Their DVOA? Negative-52.6 percent. According to my rudimentary math skills, that makes Philadelphia a little less than 20 percent worse than any other NFL team deep in an opponent's zone.
That wasn't an aberration, either. Over the past four seasons, the Eagles have finished no higher than 11th in goal-to-go DVOA and have been among the league's worst passing the ball down deep.
Considering Sanchez is likely to be under center once again in 2013, one has a hard time seeing that changing.
It Depends on the Personnel
The previous two sections are based on a ton of anecdotal evidence from Mornhinweg's years as the Eagles' offensive coordinator. While the sample size is certainly more than large enough to note consistencies in his play-calling style and his deficient areas, an offensive coordinator can only be as good as his personnel.
Right now, the Jets' offensive personnel is a complete mess. D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold are two All-Pro options on the offensive line and they're joined by guard Brandon Moore, who has been strong in the past.
The remaining eight players are replacement-level at best and barely deserving of an NFL roster spot at worst. Sanchez was far and away the NFL's worst regular starting quarterback by just about every metric we have available, but it's truly hard to blame him considering the lack of skill-position talent.
Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes should return to the starting lineup and help some, but neither closely resembles a top pass-catching option. And with the utterly benign duo of Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell running the ball, Mornhinweg is taking on an unenviable task in New York.
It's possible that with a few tweaks here and there, Mornhinweg could bring the Jets to offensive mediocrity from abhorrently embarrassing. But if they expect Mornhinweg's hiring to suddenly fix the offense without sweeping changes to the personnel, something tells me 2013 will be another long season in New York.
(Unless otherwise noted, rankings in this space come courtesy of teamrankings.com.)
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