By Ernie Palladino
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Brian Schottenheimer couldn’t do it.
Tony Sparano certainly couldn’t do it.
Now it’s up to Marty Mornhinweg to turn the Jets’ staggeringly bad offense around. Judging by Sparano’s tenure, he’ll probably get, oh, a year to pull whatever new rabbit out of his hat that will impress or depress Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson.
It should be noted here that Mornhinweg has always been a pass-first kind of guy. He worked Andy Reid’s West Coast system well in Philadelphia, and he always looked downfield in an otherwise disastrous stint as Lions head coach. But there’s the rub. Right now, the Jets don’t have a quarterback.
At least not one with a head on his shoulders. It’s going to take Mark Sanchez about a decade of mental rehab to have any confidence after what the Ryan-Schottenheimer-Sparano show did to him the past two years. And Tim Tebow, well, we all know it’s just a matter of time before the Jets jettison that experiment gone awry.
And there’s no need to even consider Greg McElroy. He’s just not ready for a steady starting job.
Assuming Ryan is going to give his new OC the power to implement his own system — a wise decision regardless of the name since the head coach really has a minimal understanding of offensive football — who is going to translate Mornhinweg’s airborne philosophy into success using a receiving corps whose quality level approaches the realness of Manti Te’o’s deceased internet lover?
The name Michael Vick has gotten tossed around a lot since news broke of Mornhinweg’s hiring over the weekend. That’s logical. A healthy Vick fit the Eagles’ system well. With Philadelphia planning to cut the quarterback rather than pay him the $15.5 million his contract calls for in 2013, he might be there for the taking.
What a mistake that would be for the Jets.
As if they don’t have enough public relations problems, bringing in Vick — with his criminal dog-fighting history and a growing injury background that now includes a major concussion — would send the media scurrying for their Twitter accounts. A move like that would trigger a 24-hour onslaught of criticism, all made worse by the fact that the Jets would still need that DeSean Johnson/Jason Avant/Jeremy Maclin-type alignment to make it all work.
Sadly, the quarterback will have to arrive first. If it’s not Vick, then Alex Smith — unwanted and unused since Colin Kaepernick became the new mayor of San Francisco — would probably be ideal here. He can throw a little, and if the Jets pick up a running back to take some of the pressure off him, Smith could actually win here.
The rest of the candidates don’t exactly set the heart aflutter. Matt Flynn, the Seattle backup who fell behind Russell Wilson, threw six touchdown passes and went for 480 yards in a final-game effort for Green Bay in 2011. He appeared in only three games this year, going 5-for-9 for 68 yards.
The good thing is that he’s still young enough, and certainly healthy enough, to potentially lead a team. But with only 141 attempts after five years in the league, it’s not likely that he’d arrive here with a boatload of confidence.
Besides, the Jets would have to give something up for him since the Seahawks have no plans to cut him outright at this point. He also comes with the final two years of a three-year, $26 million deal — not really a good fit for a salary cap-strapped team.
Absolutely nobody is going to get excited over the cheaper possibilities out there, either. Matt Moore, Tarvaris Jackson, Jason Campbell and David Garrard all represent stopgaps at best, damning Ryan’s squad to the dreaded “rebuilding” tag that no Jets fan wants to acknowledge above a whisper.
We won’t know if Mornhinweg is the right guy until the season gets going. There is much work to be done before then, such as identifying real players and building a new playbook. The new guy will have his hands full.
And he’ll go in knowing full well that if his philosophy doesn’t work in 2013, Ryan will be right there to blame it all on him as they both go out the door.
So if Vick isn’t the answer for the Jets, who is? Let’s hear some names in the comments section below…