FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) John Morton insists he’s not one to dwell on the past, especially after an embarrassingly bad performance by the New York Jets’ offense.
But the pitiful final stats in a 23-0 loss at Denver last Sunday were difficult to ignore.
The Jets had just 100 yards of offense against the Broncos, the second-lowest total in franchise history. Against a team that had lost eight straight, New York never reached the red zone and was in Broncos territory for just six plays.
”We just got our butts kicked, that’s all,” the offensive coordinator acknowledged Thursday. ”We got outcoached, we got outplayed in everything. That’s a good team. That’s a good defense over there, last week.
”So, you just go on and keep grinding away.”
The only performance in Jets history that was worse was Joe Namath’s final game for the franchise in 1976, when they had just 72 yards against Cincinnati. At Denver, they went 3 for 13 on third downs and had six first downs, with just one coming on a passing play.
Morton knew this one was all but over late in the game, so he decided to run out the clock – a waving of the white flag, of sorts.
”Listen, the game was out of hand,” Morton said. ”I didn’t want some bad stuff to happen, so at that time, I don’t like saying, `no mas,’ but it was time to get out of there. They kicked our butts. Sometimes that just happens in the National Football League and I’m not going to sit there and have these guys run a bunch of routes and something bad happen or make bad decisions.
”I didn’t want that to happen, so I made a decision and I just wanted to run it and just get out of there. That was the thing.”
The Jets had already lost quarterback Josh McCown to a broken hand in the third quarter , and were playing Bryce Petty – who hadn’t taken a snap all season – in his place.
New York ran the ball nine times and threw just three passes during its four fourth-quarter possessions, and Morton was asked if that was by design to not damage Petty’s confidence.
”We were behind,” the coach said. ”We didn’t have a chance. They’re just dropping back in coverage and then we would just 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 to do at that time.”
Petty will be tasked with making his fifth career start on Sunday at New Orleans with McCown out for the season. Morton hasn’t had to tinker much with the offense to mold it to fit Petty’s abilities.
Morton referenced Petty’s performance in the Jets’ third preseason game against the Giants, when he went 15 of 18 for 250 yards and three touchdowns while nearly leading them to a big-time comeback in a 32-31 loss.
”Bryce has had a good week of practice so far and we’re not changing anything,” Morton said. ”We’re going to run our offense. He just has to go out there and play like he has before and go back to that moment in the preseason when he brought us back against the Giants when he did some really nice things.”
What made last weekend’s dismal display so stunning was the fact the Jets were humming along on offense in their previous two games.
New York put up 391 yards in a 35-27 loss to Carolina three weeks ago, and had 488 yards in a 38-31 win over Kansas City two weeks ago.
”Yeah, it was like night and day,” Morton said. ”I’m not alarmed.”
Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse were the first set of Jets receivers since 1967 to each have 100 yards receiving in consecutive games, but that streak came to a screeching halt at Denver. Anderson had three catches for 27 yards, while Kearse had just one reception for 4 yards.
It was one of those days, for sure, but Morton and the Jets are approaching this week like a fresh start. The sour taste from Denver is gone.
”I treat every week the same, win or lose, you treat it all the same,” Morton said. ”That’s the way that I was taught. That’s the way the message has been with the players. I don’t know if we’re out of the playoffs or not, but you continue to come here and you work. These guys work their butts off every single day and don’t stop doing that and finish the season strong. That’s been the approach so far.”
NOTES: RB Matt Forte (knee) did not practice for the second straight day. … CB Morris Claiborne (foot), G Brian Winters (abdomen, ankle), LB Bruce Carter (groin), LS Thomas Hennessy (concussion), RB Elijah McGuire (ankle), DT Steve McLendon (hip) and S Rontez Miles (hamstring) were all limited.
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