FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If a player questions the play caller, that's OK. So says the play caller.
"Listen, after the game, players are emotional, coaches are emotional and sometimes they say things maybe they shouldn't say," New York Jets offensive coordinator John Morton said Thursday. "Hey, listen, I'm cool with that. I don't have a problem with that at all. We all talked about it and life goes on. I listened."
He was alluding to the Matt Forte comments from Oct. 29, when the veteran running back said Morton "strayed from the game plan" in the rain-soaked loss to the Atlanta Falcons -- i.e. he should've called more running plays than he did.
The next day, Forte and other players voiced their concerns to Morton. They felt he was too pass-reliant, and that the best formula for the offense over the second half of the season would be to feature the running game.
Morton was unavailable to the media last week because the Jets played Thursday night, so Thursday was his first opportunity to address the situation -- his first taste of controversy as an offensive coordinator.
"I listen to everybody," he said. "I listen to the quarterback, I listen to all the coaches, any players, especially the players who have played in this league for a long time"-- like Forte. "I'm listening."
Morton said he doesn't mind when players speak up. He called it "open communication." There's a delicate balance, of course. A coach will lose his players if he's close-minded and shuts them out, but he also must maintain his authority. He said it would be "stupid" not to listen to his players.
"At the end of the day, all we want to do is win," Morton said. "Whatever we want to do, whatever they want to do, as long as it helps us win games, we'll do it."
Perhaps not coincidentally, the Jets opened the last game with three straight runs and wound up running 41 times for 194 yards in the 34-21 win over the Buffalo Bills. It also happened to be Forte's best game -- 77 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season.
Morton said Forte's comments didn't influence his play calling; obviously, players felt it did.
"No," Morton said. "I'm going to do whatever is working and (the run game) was working."