FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jets offensive coordinator John Morton was honest and direct. He said that on Sunday the Broncos’ defense outplayed his group to the point where it made no sense to keep going.
“The game was out of hand and I didn’t want bad stuff to happen at that time,” Morton said Thursday. “I don’t like saying no mas, but listen, it was time to get out of there. They kicked our butts, and sometimes that happens in the National Football League. I’m not going to sit there and have these guys run a bunch of routes and something bad happens and make bad decisions. I made the decision. I just wanted to run it and get out of there.”
The Jets netted only 100 yards, second fewest in franchise history, in the 23-0 rout at Denver. Morton lost running back Elijah McGuire to a sprained right ankle on the first play of the game, and quarterback Josh McCown suffered a broken left hand in the third quarter.
Late in the first half, the Jets elected not to call any of their three timeouts to try to get the ball back. Todd Bowles said McCown had been nicked up and that it was best to regroup for the second half. On the Jets’ first second-half possession they picked up a first down, but the drive lasted only five plays before they had to punt.
In an indictment of the entire day, the Jets waved the white flag late in the game, calling eight runs among their final 12 plays. It was clear that Morton knew they were overmatched, but he denied he was trying to protect backup quarterback Bryce Petty from getting beaten up.
“We were behind. We didn’t have a chance,” Morton said. “They’re just dropping back in coverage and then we would just be throwing and forcing balls. I didn’t want that. I didn’t think that was fair. Call it whatever you want, I just thought that was the right decision to do at that time.”
Jermaine Kearse questioned why the Jets didn’t make necessary second-half adjustments. Kearse said he and fellow receiver Robby Anderson were contained by double coverage. The Broncos used a safety deep on some plays and shaded another corner or safety underneath for bracket coverage. The two receivers were coming off consecutive weeks in which each produced 100 yards. The Broncos held Anderson and Kearse to a combined four catches for 31 yards.
It’s not the first time a Jet questioned Morton. Matt Forte wondered why the Jets didn’t run the ball enough (22 times) in a 25-20 loss to the Falcons on Oct. 29. Four nights later, the Jets had 41 rushing attempts in a 34-21 victory over the Bills.
Now Morton faces a 9-4 Saints team that is eighth in turnover margin. It’s a daunting task, given the Jets’ struggles on the road (1-5), and coming off a game in which the offensive coaches gave up on the game plan. The Jets played so well the previous week, rolling up a season-high 488 yards in a 38-31 upset of the Chiefs. The ineptness of the offense in Denver raised questions about the direction in which it’s headed.
“I’m not alarmed. That was a good team,” Morton said of the Broncos, who entered the game 3-9 after losing eight in a row. “That’s a damn good defense and we just got our butts kicked. I got outcoached and we got outplayed, bottom line. Sometimes you just have to ’fess up. That was the bottom line with that one.”