FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — You can say whatever you want about the Jets’ offensive talent, from 38-year-old journeyman quarterback Josh McCown, to 31-year-old running back Matt Forte, to a group of receivers lacking a true No. 1 threat, but it’s not going to stop coordinator John Morton from being aggressive.
Morton defended his aggressive game plan in last week’s loss to the Patriots, saying it was the best way to attack. And he would do it again, if need be, Sunday against the Dolphins.
“I try to be balanced,” Morton said Thursday. “The game changes and it becomes a chess match at times. If we see certain things, we’re going to go with certain plays. I went into that game being aggressive and we practiced that all week, and that was our approach.”
The Jets (3-3) have the NFL’s 21st-ranked offense (318.7 yards per game) and average 105.2 rushing yards (18th). But except for their season-high 256 rushing yards in a Week 4 victory over the Jaguars, the Jets are averaging only 75. They’re not scoring much, either, ranked 26th (18.2 points).
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to win the game,’’ Morton said. “If it takes us running the ball a lot, so be it. If it takes us passing the ball a lot, we can do that.”
After taking a 14-0 lead over the Patriots in the second quarter, the Jets ran the ball only five times for the rest of the half. For the game they rushed for 74 yards and averaged only 3.1 per carry.
“Inconsistency in the running game hurts,” Forte said. “You don’t want to put all the pressure on the passing game and have to have them make all the plays. In the running game, you can control the clock and keep the other team off the field but also give us some balance to the offense.”
The Jets continue to have issues on third-and-short. Overall, they are 9-for-17 on third down with fewer than 2 yards to go and 10-for-21 on third and 3, 4 or 5 yards to go. They are averaging only 2.53 yards on 15 third-down runs. The offensive line has played well at times but could use more of a push in the run game. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum said it needs to get into its fits better.
“My dad and my former coach used to say if it’s third-and- one and you don’t get it, it’s usually the running back’s fault,” Forte said. “Anybody can get a yard. I like to put most of those things on myself as well. When there’s a yard to get as a running back, you’ve got to get it.”
Morton’s job has been made more difficult because he’s had to juggle personnel. His two best receivers missed training camp. Jermaine Kearse was acquired in a trade Sept. 1 and free agent Jeremy Kerley signed Sept. 5. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was suspended for the first two games. Morton also lost Forte (turf toe) for two games, and he didn’t have backup Bilal Powell (strained calf) for the Patriots. Powell, who practiced Thursday, is expected back for the Dolphins game.
And no matter what the rest of the league thinks of his offense’s talent, it will not change what Morton does.
“I really think whatever the game plan is, you’ve got to go out and do it and stick with it,” he said. “I’m still learning about certain guys, certain things, tinkering with certain things every week. And at some point you’re going to find this is what we can do.”