Walton, Joe

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Joe Must Go!
Joseph Frank Walton was the head coach and nose picker extraordinaire of the New York Jets from 1990 to 1989.



Born December 15, 1935 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, Walton attended the University of Pittsburgh on a football scholarship where he was an All-American.

Playing career

Walton was drafted in the second round of the 1957 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. Walton played for the Redskins until 1960. He then played for the New York Giants from 1961 to 1963. After retiring in 1964, Walton spent four years as a scout for the Giants.

Coaching Career

Before the Jets

Walton served as running backs coach of the Washington Redskins from 1974-77 and offensive coordinator from 1978-80.

With the Jets

In 1981 Walton was hired by the Jets to be their offensive coordinator. After the 1982 AFC Championship Game defeat to Miami, Michaels "resigned", and was replaced by Walton. Many feel that Michaels was pushed in order to prevent Walton going to another team as a head coach. The Jets finished 7-9 in his first season, a record which was repeated in 1984. In 1985, the Jets would go 11-5, but lost to the Patriots in the wild card round, In the 1986 season, the Jets had the N.F.L.'s best record, 10-1. But injuries suddenly sidelined the Jets' three best defensive linemen: Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau and Marty Lyons. In the next-to-last game, Reggie McElroy, their best offensive tackle, hobbled off with a damaged knee.

The Jets went into a five-game nosedive, finishing 10-6 and losing the division to Miami. Before the playoffs, Ken O'Brien was benched. Pat Ryan, the backup quarterback, led the Jets to a wild-card victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in their playoff opener. But in Cleveland, they lost to the Browns in double-overtime, 23-20, after having held a 20-10 lead with only 4 minutes 14 seconds remaining. Late in the game, one of the most infamous plays in Jets history occurred when Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar threw an incomplete pass on 2nd down and 24, but the Browns were awarded a first down when Mark Gastineau was penalized for roughing the passer, giving them a first down at the Browns 33, from where they would get first a touchdown and then in the closing seconds of regulation a game-tying field goal. The rest was history.

It was downhill from there. In the remainder of his time as head coach, The Jets went 18-31-1. The "Joe must go" chants would become prevalent at the Meadowlands, and Walton was caught picking his nose on national tv.

In 1987 The Jets would again collapse in December, going 0-4, and finish the season 6-9 and last. An 8-7-1 record followed in 1988, after which, Walton was given an extension. The reason, accrding to Jets president Steve Gutman: "We have always endeavored not to have a coach be a lame duck." "We vastly lowered the average age of players on the club," said Gutman. "If Joe can do it again in 1989 and 1990 I believe we can win a division championship, which is our objective."

The objective was not met though, and the Jets went into a tailspin in 1989, finishing 4–12 with the Jets getting shut out in their last two home games. A couple of days after the 37-0 defeat to Buffalo, Walton was fired.

During his time as head coach, Walton dismissed assistants, remade the club several times, and consolidated his power in the scouting department. At the time, Walton was only the third coach in the history of the National Football League to last seven seasons without at least a division title. He also gave Rich Kotite a job.

Walton posted a 53-57-1 record over seven seasons with only two post season appearances, and with one playoff victory. But he did swallow an awful lot of snot.

After the Jets

Two months after being sacked, Walton was hired as the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a position he held from 1990 to 1991 serving under Chuck Noll.

After the NFL

On July 27, 1993, Walton was named the head coach of the newly formed Robert Morris University football team. Walton created the team from scratch and turned the Colonials into an instant powerhouse. His teams won five Northeast Conference championships and two NCAA Div. I-AA mid-major championships in their first ten years of existence. Walton was included on the ballot of the 2004 College Football Hall of Fame.

Look! My finger's nowhere near my nose! The treatment has worked!
In 2005, Robert Morris University opened Joe Walton Stadium, new home to the RMU Colonials. He is signed through 2011 to remain the head coach at Robert Morris.

Preceeded by Jets Head Coach Succeeded by
Walt Michaels 1983 - 1989 Bruce Coslet
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