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John Morton eager to make his debut as Jets’ play-caller

Jets offensive coordinator John Morton during the team's OTAs

Jets offensive coordinator John Morton during the team's OTAs on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Florham Park, New Jersey. Credit: AP / Julio Cortez

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New Jets offensive coordinator John Morton walked up to the podium on Thursday, and someone said he looked as if he hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep lately.

The lack of talent in the Jets’ offense may keep Morton awake at night later this season, but he says that’s not it. He’s just excited about making his NFL play-calling debut on Sunday at Buffalo and has been putting in long hours to get his unit ready.

“It’s OK,” Morton said. “That’s what I love about this job.”

Todd Bowles called Morton “a great offensive mind” after hiring him in January. Morton had been the Saints’ wide receivers coach and has apprenticed under Sean Payton, Pete Carroll, Jon Gruden and Jim Harbaugh.

Morton brought the West Coast offense with him from the Saints, but he didn’t bring Drew Brees. He will try to do his best with Josh McCown under center.

“He brings confidence,” Bowles said. “I know that much. He’s a brash guy, and I like that about him. That’s one of the reasons I hired him. He’s a smart guy. He gets it. He understands situations and he’ll make the right calls. He has everybody on the same page and I have every bit of confidence in him.

“The brashness didn’t come out till later. His intelligence was first. He’ll compete. You play a game of jacks, he’s going to compete and beat you. I don’t care if you’re 4 years old, he’s going to try to win that game.”

It would be really brash for Morton to say the Jets are going to light up the scoreboard this season. But he is smart. So he didn’t say that.

When asked if he thinks the offense will be better than expected, Morton said: “I don’t know. We’ll see. I just want our guys to go out and be competitive, go hard and do their job every single play. And protect the ball. If we do that, we’ve got a great chance of winning.”

What about the idea that the Jets could have a historically bad offense?

“I don’t get into that stuff,” he said. “All I’m worried about right now is Buffalo. That’s it. I’m worried about Buffalo. I don’t worry about what anyone else says. You start worrying about that stuff, you’ve lost.”

Morton, 47, last called the plays at USC in 2010. He was a wide receiver who played in the CFL and the World League and spent time on NFL practice squads, but he never was on the field for an NFL regular-season snap.

Now, 20 years after his playing career ended with the Frankfurt Galaxy, Morton is a rookie offensive coordinator on a team in need of some inspired coaching.

“I feel really confident,” he said. “Otherwise I shouldn’t be sitting here. But listen — I think I’ve said this before — I’ve been prepared. I’ve been around some great coaches that have prepared me and a lot of great players that have prepared me. And I’ve been in a couple big-time games, Super Bowl games. I’m fortunate enough that I can say that. And a lot of playoff games I’ve been in. So I feel really comfortable going into this game calling the plays for the first time.”

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