FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — There were still more than 11 minutes to play in the game last Sunday, but it was going so badly for the New York Jets that offensive coordinator John Morton decided enough was enough. He admittedly waved a white flag.
It’s unusual for a coach to say it, but Morton acknowledged on Thursday that he just wanted to run out the clock because he felt the Jets “didn’t have a chance” to rally against the Denver Broncos, who led the game 23-0.
“Listen, the game was out of hand and I didn’t want to let some bad stuff happen,” Morton said. “At that time, I don’t like to say, ‘No mas,’ but it was time to get out of there. They kicked our butts, they kicked our butts. Sometimes that happens in the National Football League.
“I’m not going to sit there and have those guys run a bunch of (pass) routes and something bad happens, make bad decisions. I didn’t want that to happen. I made the decision. I just wanted to run it and get out of there.”
At that point, the Jets didn’t have starting quarterback Josh McCown, who left in the third quarter with a broken left hand. He was replaced by a rusty Bryce Petty, who didn’t play a single snap in the first 12 games.
Petty started his first series with 11:33 left in the fourth quarter. Instead of throwing the ball in a hurry-up offense, Morton played it conservatively. The Jets ran the ball on eight of their remaining 12 plays, which covered three possessions. They finished with only 100 total yards, second-lowest in franchise history.
Morton’s playcalling infuriated the fan base, but it’s possible he did it to protect Petty’s confidence, knowing he’d likely remain in the lineup for the next game. In fact, Petty will start on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. McCown will miss the remainder of the year after having surgery to repair his hand.
Morton didn’t deny that Petty factored into the decision.
“Listen, we were behind, we didn’t have a chance,” Morton said. “I mean, they’re just dropping back in coverage and we’re just going to 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.”
Morton’s actions could be perceived as a lack of confidence in Petty, but the first-year coordinator insisted he has “the utmost confidence” in the young quarterback. Petty is preparing for his fifth career start.
The Jets’ clunker in Denver came after their best offensive day of the season, a 38-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Night and day,” Morton said. “I’m not alarmed. Listen, that was a good team. They have a good defense. We just got our butts kicked. I got outcoached, we got outplayed, bottom line. Sometimes you just have to fess up and that was the bottom line with that.”