MOBILE, Ala. — The Jets are in the process of narrowing their search for an offensive coordinator to one: Jeremy Bates.
A source said it’s possible that Bates, the Jets’ quarterbacks coach in 2017, will replace John Morton, who was relieved of his duties after the season. ESPN reported that the Jets will promote Bates to offensive coordinator, but team officials were not commenting.
Whoever gets the job will be the Jets’ fifth play-caller in the last seven seasons.
In Morton’s only season as offensive coordinator / play-caller, the Jets were 24th in passing (198.9 yards a game), 19th in rushing (106.4) and 24th in points (18.6).
When the season ended, team officials decided to let Morton go. Coach Todd Bowles said he liked him but that there were philosophical differences about the direction of the offense. Several players grumbled about game plans and play calls. Running back Matt Forte complained about a lack of running plays in a loss to Atlanta, and Morton said at the time that he was always open to suggestions. The next week, the Jets made a commitment to the run and beat the Bills.
After the Jets decided to let Morton go, the focus turned toward Bates, who earned Bowles’ praise for his work with backup quarterbacks Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. Bowles and the front office are trying to build continuity, and it appears keeping Bates around would work toward that end.
It also could have an impact on quarterback Josh McCown, who soon will become a free agent. He said during the season that when considering a return, he would factor in whether he would be running the same offense and which coaches would be teaching it.
In the West Coast offense, McCown set career highs in touchdown passes (18), yards (2,926) and completions (267). Under Bates, the Jets most likely would keep the same system.
Bates was Seattle’s offensive coordinator in 2010 but was let go after a year. The Seahawks were 28th in yards (4,765), 31st in rushing (1,424) and 23rd in points (19.4). With Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, Seattle went 7-9 but made the playoffs.
If McCown doesn’t return, it will be up to Bates to make things work with a rookie or a new quarterback.