Denzel Mims and Elijah Moore combined to appear in 32 percent of Sunday’s Jets’ offensive snaps
New York Jets fans—as well as one of the team’s franchise cornerstones—fear that the team’s future is quickly becoming its past.
The Jets’ bye has once again brought upon an unwanted spotlight upon their usage of young receivers Denzel Mims and Elijah Moore. Through the first five games, the second-round sophomores have united for only 11 receptions.
Mims’ status has been a season-long topic of debate. The Baylor alum has partaken in three games this season and was listed as a healthy scratch in their second and third contests.
Injuries have been Mims’ only path into the lineup, as he subbed for Jamison Crowder during the Week 1 opener in Carolina after dressing in place of Jeff Smith over the last two weeks.
Even with the Jets’ limited aerial resources, Mims has struggled to see the field.
Only 21 offensive snaps have used Mims in some capacity, with eight of those coming in Sunday’s 27-20 London-based loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Despite his lack of action, Mims has managed to make an impact in a limited space. The kid has tallied 73 yards on three receptions, good for an average tally of over 24 yards.
As the New York offense continues to sputter, Jets fans have begged Robert Saleh, Mike LaFleur, and the rest of the coaching staff to grant Mims more snaps, if only because his insertion can’t possibly make things worse.
Mims’ own teammate, injured offensive lineman and fellow second-year man Mekhi Becton, personally called for the Jets’ “UNLEASH MIMS!!!!” while watching Sunday’s game.
— Trending Topic 🤫 (@BigTicket73) October 10, 2021
Saleh has routinely stated that Mims’ lack of contribution on special teams has been made him reluctant to show him off in an expanded role. He didn’t appear to budge on Mims’ lack of snaps, all while once again reiterating that there are no issues with his relationship with the receiver.
“I don’t know that there’s anything to rectify,” Saleh said when queried by Kim Jones of NFL Network, per the Jets official PR transcript. “The relationship is good. We love Mims. He’s a tremendous character kid and he’s been working his tail off and it’s the same thing. He got out there, he had some opportunities yesterday, he was fantastic in the run game, created an explosive play on just a really good play overall, just with quarterback play, O-line protecting, and working and running his route the way he did.
“Obviously, just like everyone else, there’s going to be stuff that he can clean up, but he is earning his reps and he’ll continue to do so and as he continues to do so, he’ll get more opportunities.”
Saleh was also forced to deal with Becton’s apparent defiance of the game plan, too.
“Mekhi’s heart is always in the right place. He’s got a great relationship with Mims, as we all do,” Saleh said. “Mims did a really nice job in the game. He’s done a really nice job in the last couple of weeks and for him, I don’t think it’s a malicious tweet towards his teammate, although people can look at it that way.
“I think Mekhi’s heart is in the right place and he just wants to see his teammates all do well and when you’re a young man on social media, I don’t think, when you tweet, you don’t understand the ramifications of what other people might look at it as and I can tell you one of Mekhi, he absolutely loves his teammates and that’s a situation where Mims, he gets a big play and he’s just routing his teammate on.”
One would think that Mims’ lack of snaps would open the door for the other kid in question, Elijah Moore, but he was likewise limited in London. Moore appeared in 23 of 56 offensive snaps (41 percent), fourth-best on the team behind Crowder, Corey Davis, and Keelan Cole.
Saleh cited the Jets’ lack of snaps for Moore’s limited availability in the immediate aftermath.
“When you’re limited in plays, you get off to a slow start, you fall behind, you’re limited in plays,” Saleh said. “I think we had like 45 plays before our two-minute warning, so you’re trying to run the ball, you’re trying to get (Davis) involved, you’re trying to get Crowder involved, you’re trying to get Elijah Moore involved and you’re trying to get people involved and there are only so many plays to go around.”
Moore was targeted twice on Sunday but had no receptions. He has tallied 66 yards on eight catches so far this season and missed the Week 4 win over Tennessee with a concussion sustained the week prior in Denver.
Saleh was further questioned over whether Moore could get more opportunities in the slot, where he succeeded at Mississippi, but he seemed confident in what incumbents Crowder and Braxton Berrios were doing in the same area.
“That’s a good discussion, but then you got Jamison Crowder who’s a seasoned veteran in the slot, you got Berrios who’s been a seasoned veteran in the slot. Obviously, with E-Moore, you’re trying to get your best players on the football field and there were some calls that were designed for him yesterday, but coverage dictates where the ball goes, and we just missed on some opportunities.”
Saleh did offer Moore some kudos for drawing a crucial pass interference penalty, a 41-yard infraction against A.J. Terrell that set up the Jets’ final touchdown of the day. But he continued to insist that the Jets’ failure to control the ball has denied the young deep-ball threats their own opportunities.
“There are a lot of guys who’d love to touch the football but it’s really hard to touch a football when we’re not getting plays, we’re not converting third downs, and we’re not staying on the football field,” the head coach said. “On the flip side, defensively, getting off the field, creating some three-and-outs, getting the ball to our offense as quickly as possible. So, this is a collective thing, and there’s always going to be a player who wants more of the ball, but there’s one ball, limited plays, how do you get them all involved? We can start by having a 70-play game.”
To Saleh’s point, the Jets currently rank 29th in average time of possession (26:32), ahead of only Jacksonville, Miami, and Seattle.
Moore preached patience in an Instagram post introduced on Tuesday morning.
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“(Stuff) don’t always connect as soon as u press play,” Moore wrote in a caption accompanying photos from the London trip. “At times u gotta step away, do sum livin. Let time provide a truer vision.” [sic]
The Jets (1-4) return to action on Oct. 24 against the New England Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags