Elijah Moore, NY Jets, A.J. Terrell, Atlanta Falcons
Elijah Moore, NY Jets, A.J. Terrell, Atlanta Falcons, Getty Images, Jet X Graphic

The stats continue to lie about Elijah Moore

It is very easy to look at Elijah Moore‘s box score statistics and label him an early disappointment. The New York Jets‘ second-round pick has caught eight passes for 66 yards and zero touchdowns in four games. There are 216 players in the NFL who have more receiving yards than him.

Moore’s lackluster statistics are largely not his fault. As I showcased last week with a handful of examples on film, Moore has been creating separation and getting himself open all year. For one reason or another, the football just has not been getting to him.

After missing New York’s victory over the Titans with a concussion, Moore returned in Week 5 to take on a brutal Falcons secondary that entered the game allowing the highest opposing passer rating in the NFL. It seemed like a perfect opportunity for him to break out, especially considering the momentum that Zach Wilson and the offense had established the previous week.

Instead, Moore bombed in the stat-sheet yet again. He was targeted only twice and caught neither pass as he posted his second abominable stat-line of the season (he posted negative-3 yards in his debut against the Panthers).

The story for Moore in this game was the same as in his first few contests. He was open for a number of big plays but had his routes go for naught as Wilson either misfired, threw the ball elsewhere, or had his chance to hit Moore disrupted by poor protection.

Moore’s production would have been remarkably good if the ball was delivered to him accurately on even just half of the plays in which he broke open.

Wilson throws it away under pressure while Moore is open

Moore lines up on the boundary side and runs a deep corner route. He clears the underneath cornerback, who is held underneath by the crossing Denzel Mims. Moore then presses vertically and toward the inside against the boundary-side safety, getting him to turn his hips inside and commit deep. Moore breaks toward the sideline and is wide open over 30 yards downfield.

Wilson faces immediate trouble after the play fake as the sifting Trevon Wesco does not cross the formation quickly enough to pick up the unblocked rusher off the edge. This forces Wilson to step up, which he does. Wilson breaks free of the defender’s outstretched arm and escapes. It’s a solid job of sensing the pressure and avoiding it.

Once he steps up, Wilson is fairly clean. He has enough time and space to read this concept, find Moore, and deliver an accurate throw without pressure. However, Wilson panics, quickly hurling the ball out of bounds into no man’s land.

I’m not completely sure if he was just throwing the ball away or if he missed Moore that badly, but either way, it’s a blown opportunity to make a big play.

This is certainly a difficult throw that I do not expect Wilson to make 10 out of 10 times, but the point of this breakdown is to focus on Moore’s effort. He got himself open for a huge gain and that’s all he can do.

Greg Van Roten makes the play difficult for Wilson

Right guard Greg Van Roten has taken a litany of losses this season. Many of them have occurred in spots where his defeat resulted in the destruction of a potentially huge play.

Moore lines up as the point man in a stack with Denzel Mims to the field side. Moore sells vertical, jabs inside to get the middle-of-the-field safety to bite, and breaks outside with an ocean of separation. With Mims carrying the deep-third corner deep on a go route, Moore is in the clear.

Unfortunately, Wilson does not get a chance to execute this play on-schedule from the pocket since Van Roten is immediately demolished by star defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (who times the snap incredibly well). Michael Carter does a good job of bailing Van Roten out to prevent a sack and give Wilson a chance to scramble.

Wilson could still probably hit this throw after scrambling if he sets himself, but he lobs the ball while on the run and misfires out of bounds.

This one is mainly on Van Roten, though. If Van Roten keeps Wilson clean, the throw would have been significantly easier.

Good comeback route by Moore but Wilson hits earlier read (good decision)

This is an example of a play in which nobody can be blamed for Moore not being targeted. Wilson just happens to get the ball out on an earlier read because that receiver was open, which is a good decision on his part. Nevertheless, Moore does his job.

Moore is the Z receiver to the field side, lined up fairly tight to the formation. Atlanta cornerback A.J. Terrell takes him man-to-man in off-coverage with outside leverage. Moore sells an out-and-up, getting Terrell to bite, and then snaps the route back toward the first down marker on a comeback, creating about three yards of separation.

Corey Davis happens to be open on the first read, so Wilson gets the ball out to him (badly missing behind Davis), but this is an excellent route by Moore.

Moore is open on a deep curl, Wilson checks it down (good decision)

Here is another one where Moore is open but Wilson gets the ball out earlier with a solid decision.

Moore runs a curl about 20 yards downfield, aggressively selling vertical against the outside-third cornerback. He has about three yards of separation on the break, although there is a linebacker situated to the inside.

With the linebacker’s hips turned inside as he drops, I think Wilson could have zipped this ball to Moore if he anticipated the throw and got it out before Moore broke – right at about the time where he ended up releasing the ball on the check-down. If this ball is in the air on its way to Moore while Moore turns around, it can get by the linebacker, beat the corner, and be completed.

But I can absolutely understand why Wilson does not attempt this throw. It is certainly a difficult window with the linebacker inside and the cornerback outside. Plus, it’s first-and-10, so there is no need to force anything.

Wilson makes a solid first-down decision as he checks the ball down to Michael Carter and places it in a good spot that leads him outside, allowing Carter to maximize yardage after the catch as he beats a defender and picks up the first down.

Once again, though, we’re focusing solely on Moore, and this is yet another example of him getting open.

Moore makes a great catch but steps out of bounds

Moore attempts to squeeze by the underneath corner and streak up the sideline, but while doing so, he steps out of bounds (seemingly barely), making himself ineligible to catch the ball.

It’s a rookie mistake by the 21-year-old. Nevertheless, Moore settles into the hole of the Cover-2 and makes a tremendous grab along the sideline off of a beautiful hole shot by Wilson (easily his best throw of the game).

Moore draws a 41-yard pass interference penalty

Moore lines up on the line of scrimmage to the field side against A.J. Terrell, who is in soft press coverage. Moore immediately releases inside and runs up the seam with Terrell attached to his back hip.

Once he gets around 15 yards downfield, Moore turns his head outside and begins to subtly bend the route outside, and Terrell bites. The single-high safety also bites on the outside fake, turning his hips outside and committing to getting over the top of an out-breaking route.

Moore slices back inside, leaving the corner and the safety in the dust. He has multiple yards of separation for a touchdown, but Wilson misfires, placing the ball behind the ideal location.

Thanks to Moore’s separation, though, the poor placement results in Terrell tumbling into Moore once Moore stops to track the ball, netting 41 yards for the Jets.

Keep in mind that Moore played a season-low 23 offensive snaps (41% of all plays) and ran a route on a season-low 16 plays in this game against Atlanta, so the six reps above make up nearly half of the plays in which he was an option to catch the ball.

Simply grabbing this 43-yard touchdown would have made this a superbly efficient receiving performance for Moore on a per-route basis (the 2020 average for yards per route among wide receivers was 1.58).

The Jets need to get Moore’s snap portion closer to the 82% mark he had over the first two games. A portion of 41% will be difficult to justify if maintained going forward. Perhaps they were merely easing him back in after his time spent in concussion protocol.

Elijah Moore has been unlucky

While it is fair to be disappointed in Moore’s early-season production, the bulk of that disappointment should not be pointed at Moore himself. He is playing his role as well as you could ask him to.

Moore is creating plenty of opportunities for the offense to generate game-changing plays. Once Wilson finds his groove and begins developing chemistry with his fellow rookie, the duo’s ceiling is limitless.

It just might take some time before the connection truly takes off. The routes that Moore is asked to run tend to be deep and/or long-developing, requiring great accuracy and anticipation on the part of the quarterback.

Those routes also require strong pass protection that provides the quarterback with enough time to progress to Moore, who is typically not the first read in the concept since his routes take so long to develop.

As with many things going on in the land of New York Jets football right now, patience is the key with Elijah Moore – not necessarily due to his own performance, but because it could be a while before the unit around him begins clicking to the point where his style of play (as he is currently utilized) can be maximized.

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Michael Nania is the best analytical New York Jets mind in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania@jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania

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DapperJet
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DapperJet

Hopefully Zach starts to recognize how open Moore is getting.