PHOENIX — Jets fans may not know much about new offensive coordinator John Morton, but Saints coach Sean Payton couldn’t stop singing his praises.
“ ‘Johnny Mo,’ he’s very prepared. You’re going to be impressed with him,” Payton said Wednesday of his former assistant during the NFL owners meeting.
“He’s not going to be a media darling. But he’s talented, he’s going to work his tail off. We had 2-, 3-in-the-morning nights during the year. That’s just how it is. But he’s a fantastic teacher, he knows the offense. He’s also going to make sure he’s going to look closely at the personnel. And we talk all the time about making sure the offense is built around the ingredient and it’s not the other way. And I think he’ll do a good job of assessing with the staff, ‘Hey, here are our strengths and let’s play to them.’ ”
That’s good news for Jets fans, considering how predictable and unimaginative at times the offense was under former coordinator Chan Gailey. But Morton, who twice was hired by Payton since 2006 and spent the past two seasons as the Saints’ wide receivers coach, is more than capable of improving the Jets’ underachieving offense, Payton said.
And the longtime head coach is excited to see his former pupil become a first-time play-caller. “You want to see guys have success on your staff and go on,” he said of the 47-year-old Morton, who rejoined the Saints in 2015 after serving as their offensive assistant and passing game coach in 2006. “ . . . It’s his first opportunity and I think he’ll do a real good job. I said this to him, there’s no better city than New York to go have success as a play-caller. You go in there and make an impression.
“That happened to me in 1999, first time having a chance to call plays right in the middle of the season,” added Payton, a former quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Giants. “I was young. Those are good memories and good opportunities.”
Morton will certainly have a lot of long nights trying to assess the Jets’ current roster, which at the moment doesn’t have a starting quarterback. The team signed veteran Josh McCown last week, but he’ll be expected to compete with the inexperienced Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty. Coach Todd Bowles will ultimately decide which of the three will be their Week 1 starter, but it will be up to Morton to put whichever player in the best situation to be successful.
“Listen, he’s been around [Jon] Gruden, [Jim] Harbaugh, myself. He’s very meticulous. I think he’s going to be outstanding,” Payton said, adding that Morton was one of three Saints assistants who presented plays to Payton each week.
“I think most importantly, it’s going to be, ‘Hey, who’s playing quarterback. has that been solved?’ But I think [the media] will be impressed. I think he’s a tremendous football coach, I do. And I know this: There’s not any lack of passion. He’ll be there till whatever hour it takes. He’ll spend a lot of hours there, I’m sure.”
Perhaps, the Jets may have to copy Payton and build a sleep room for coaches that the Saints equipped with air conditioning and eight bunk beds.
Said Payton, smiling: “It’s a little Google-like. It’s pretty cool.”