HOUSTON — Jets coach Todd Bowles apparently has found his new offensive coordinator. He reportedly plans to hire Saints wide receivers coach John Morton for the position, and a deal is expected to be completed “soon,” according to ESPN.
While in Mobile, Alabama, with the rest of the Jets contingent last week for the Senior Bowl, Bowles made it clear that he had targeted a replacement for his former offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey.
“I’m pretty sure where I’m going,” Bowles said Tuesday. That path led him to Morton, who recently interviewed for the opening.
Morton, 47, rejoined Saints coach Sean Payton’s staff in 2015 after serving as their offensive assistant and passing game coach in 2006. He went on to work with Pete Carroll at USC, where he coached the receivers and became the Trojans’ offensive coordinator in 2009.
Morton twice worked under Jim Harbaugh, first as his passing game/wide receivers coach at the University of San Diego in 2005 and as the 49ers’ wide receivers coach from 2011-14. During that time, Colin Kaepernick, a potential option for the Jets this offseason, was the 49ers’ quarterback.
Along with having some of football’s most experienced coaches as mentors, Morton has a track record of improving receivers. The 49ers, who had Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, made consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances from 2011-13 and played in Super Bowl XLVII.
The Saints’ receivers also showed improvement under Morton’s guidance during the past two seasons. Former first-round pick Brandin Cooks (1,173) and rookie Michael Thomas (1,137) each surpassed 1,000 yards. The pair, along with wide receiver Willie Snead, totaled 21 touchdowns in 2016.
Morton, who broke into NFL coaching as an offensive assistant with the Raiders in 2002, also coached the team’s tight ends in 2004. It remains to be seen if all of that knowledge as a position coach can make up for his lack of experience as an NFL play-caller.
Though he’s shown an aptitude for improving receivers, Morton has yet to prove he can develop quarterbacks. The Jets have two inexperienced quarterbacks in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, who will be working with a new coordinator and quarterbacks coach after Gailey’s retirement and the firing of Kevin Patullo.