The New York Jets need playmakers, so why isn’t Elijah Moore getting the ball? – New York Jets blog

October 16, 2021

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – One of the New York Jets’ biggest 1-4 start disappointments is rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore, who was so dazzling in the spring and early in training camp that team officials were dizzy with the belief that they had stole it in the second round of the NFL draft.

It may still turn out to be a robbery, but its slow start has tempered the buzz. The numbers: four games, 20 targets, eight receptions for 66 yards.

No impact.

“Elijah Moore is a ballplayer and his time is coming, as are the rest of us,” said quarterback Zach Wilson, another rookie. “I wish I could give him the ball more; I know it’s part of my job. I know he’s a dominant player. I need to give him the ball more. It’s just accepting the process, knowing that it will take time.”

This is not a Denzel Mims situation. Unlike Mims, Moore has a lot of playing time, but it doesn’t translate into production.

Some of the factors are obvious: no preseason action due to a quadriceps injury, inconsistent play from quarterback position, and the typical transition from college to pro, although the latter reason doesn’t carry as much weight considering his colleagues from the SEC are lighting it up.

Jaylen Waddle (Miami Dolphins), DeVonta Smith (Philadelphia Eagles), Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals) and Kadarius Toney (New York Giants) are producing solid numbers for their respective teams. Moore, a prolific pass receiver who averaged 149 receiving yards per game last season at Ole Miss, has made just two first downs.

What gives?

For one thing, they are playing it out of position. In college, 75% of Moore’s production came out of the slot, but the Jets said on draft day that he’s more than a slot receiver, and they’re trying to prove their point. Moore and Corey Davis are the outside receivers, with Jamison Crowder in the slot.

Moore has executed more than twice as many outbound pass routes (69) as from the slot (31), but has the same number of catches at each position (four each), according to research from ESPN Stats & Information. It’s a small sample size, but it might tell a story.

When asked if Moore is struggling with coverage on the outside, where his size (5 feet 10 inches) could be considered a disadvantage, coach Robert Saleh acknowledged that it is “a good discussion.” He quickly added that Crowder and Braxton Berrios are capable slot receivers, essentially saying there’s a jam.

“You’re trying to get your best players on the football field,” Saleh said.

Saleh said the plays were called for Moore in Sunday’s 27-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, but he was attacked only twice (zero receptions) because that’s what coverage dictated.

For months, they talked about his skill as a gadget player, someone who could execute a jet sweep, in the style of Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers. Moore had his first chance in Week 3 against the Denver Broncos, but suffered a concussion on the play and missed a game. They didn’t go back to that against the Falcons.

“There will always be a player who wants more of the ball, but there is a ball, limited plays, how to involve them all?” Saleh asked. “And we can start with a 70-play game.”

Coaches use that reasoning when trying to explain why certain players don’t get more touches, but it makes little sense. The Jets are averaging just 59 plays per game on offense, which makes it difficult to spread around the ball, but they might be getting more plays if they got the ball to the right people. It’s the chicken egg argument.

The Jets could open two spots by trading Crowder, who is in the final year of his contract, before the Nov. 2 deadline. They could slip Moore into the slot, creating playtime for Mims on the outside. Crowder is a good player, but the Jets have to think long term, especially if they are no longer in contention by then.

Meanwhile, Moore Watch continues.

“I think as time goes on, we will continue to get more comfortable with each other,” Wilson said. “Obviously he is someone I always look for to have the ball in his hands because he is so dominant.”