EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In a heavy rain storm and on a windy day facing a potentially explosive opponent, the best strategy for the Jets -- really, a no-brainer of a strategy -- would've been to run the ball as often as they could.
So after a game in which the Jets passed 36 times and ran 22 and lost 25-20 to the Atlanta Falcons, it probably was no surprise that running back Matt Forte wasn't happy with offensive coordinator John Morton. Forte wanted to run more. He thinks the Jets should've run more.
If only he and his teammates had run better when they had the chance.
Because that's really the issue here, not Morton's play-calling. Maybe the first-year coordinator did stray a little bit too far away from the run, especially in the second half of the game. But the Jets averaged 1.9 yards per carry in the first half, and they were down to 1.8 through three quarters. By the time they had a sustained fourth-quarter drive, they were playing catch-up in the final five minutes of the game.
Of course they wanted to run more. They couldn't. And it probably would've been crazy for Morton to keep trying, especially when quarterback Josh McCown (26-of-33, 257 yards, two touchdowns) and receiver Robby Anderson (six catches, 104 yards, one touchdown) were having themselves a day.
This is what a good offensive coordinator does: He sticks with what works, even on a miserable, stormy day. No matter what the book (or the running back) says you're supposed to do.
"We knew the weather was going to be like this, and it continued to rain the entire game," Forte said. "There should have been at least one person with 20 carries with the way the weather was. I thought we were going to grind them out on the ground, but it ended up not turning out that way.
"I think everyone knows (running the ball) was the game plan, and we strayed away from it."
It surely feels that way to Forte, the 31-year-old running back, because he carried just four times for a measly seven yards, compared to the 14 carries for 33 yards that Bilal Powell totaled. Consider this: Powell had one rush for 12 yards -- on the first carry of the game. That means his other 13 carries went for 21 yards. Between that and Forte's four for seven, that's an average of 1.6 yards per rush.
And Morton is supposed to stick with that, hoping for a breakout run on a wet and slippery field?
"There were some runs where we got four, four-plus," he said "Every time you run the ball, you're not going to get that, obviously, but we did have some success. The run game is where you keep wearing on a defense. The more you run it, later on, you may pop a big one."
Powell had three four-yard runs and one six-yard run, and Forte had a four-yard run. So they didn't exactly have a lot of those "big" four-plus runs. Even so, Morton continued to call runs anyway in hopes that something would pop. The Jets offensive coordinator said last week that ideally, with his offense, he prefers a 60-40 pass-run split. That is the kind of "balance" he strives for.
Well, in the first half the Jets threw 16 passes and ran 12 times. Through three quarters, the pass-run split was an almost even 22-20. In fact, the split was still 27-22 (that's 55 percent passes) with 5:14 left in the game when the Jets went into pass mode, needing a touchdown to win, and McCown threw the ball on the final nine plays of the game.
Should they have mixed in a few runs there? Maybe. But McCown went 6-for-9 for 47 yards on those passes, and one of the incompletions was a spike to stop the clock.
And still, Forte thought they should've run more?
"You've got a wet ball out there and it wasn't like a light drizzle; it was really, really raining," Forte said. "I'm obviously biased because I'm a running back. But yeah, raining like that, you would think that we would run it more than we did."
That only works if the Jets were running it better than they did. They weren't. And yet Morton kept calling for runs until time was running out in the fourth quarter. If Morton had called even more runs, he would've been ignoring the obvious: that McCown was locked in and Anderson was taking advantage of a struggling Falcons secondary.
He sensed a weakness and he attacked it. That's what a coordinator is supposed to do. Sticking to an archaic run-first formula just because the weather is wet? It's a nice theory, but it's only a good one if the running game is working. It wasn't. It was painfully obvious. And a handful of more carries to get a better ratio wasn't going to change that.