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Elijah Moore is proving that he’s an outside WR, not a slot

Elijah Moore, NY Jets, Stats, PFF Grade, Highlights
Elijah Moore, New York Jets, Getty Images

Elijah Moore is an all-around wide receiver

Oftentimes, football players have labels attached to them due to stigmas that surround their physical traits.

New York Jets rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore is 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds. He is lighter than 90.3% of the other 238 wide receivers who have appeared in an NFL game this season.

Clearly, the tiny Moore is a pure slot receiver and “gadget guy”. Right?


Moore is one of the hottest wide receivers in the NFL (he ranks fourth-best at his position with an average of 2.92 yards per route run from Weeks 8-11), and throughout his hot streak, he has proven that he is at his best when lined up on the outside.

The Jets and their fans marveled at Moore’s brilliance in Week 11 as he caught eight passes for 141 yards and a touchdown against Miami’s expensive secondary. Take a look at the distribution of his production in that performance:

  • Slot: 9 routes run, 1 catch, 1 target, 5 yards, 0 first downs
  • Outside: 26 routes run, 7 catches, 10 targets, 136 yards, 1 touchdown, 4 first downs

Just about all of Moore’s damage was done from the outside. This continues the trend that had been developing over the first three games of Moore’s explosion.

Here is a look at the distribution of Moore’s production from Weeks 8-11:

  • Slot: 29 routes run, 7 targets, 6 catches, 39 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 first down
  • Outside: 86 routes run, 23 targets, 18 catches, 297 yards, 3 touchdowns, 10 first downs

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And here is a comparison of Moore’s efficiency over that span:

  • Slot (25.2% of routes): 5.6 yards per target, 1.34 yards per route run, TD/1stD on 28.6% of targets, TD/1stD on 6.9% of routes
  • Outside (74.8% of routes): 12.9 yards per target, 3.45 yards per route run, TD/1stD on 56.5% of targets, TD/1stD on 15.1% of routes

The difference in output is night and day. Moore has not done much of anything in the slot. When lined up as the outermost receiver to his side, he has been playing at a superstar-caliber level. He is just as capable of dominating along the sidelines as your favorite tall, big-bodied, “No. 1” wide receiver.

Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur should absolutely still give Moore some slot reps (it’s great that Moore can do both), but it is clear that the outside should be his primary home. His current 75-25 split makes sense.

Moore has shown versatility in his outside alignments. He has handled both the “X” and “Z” roles and has been asked to line up both on and off the line of scrimmage.

We are also seeing Moore flash the ability to do damage at various levels of the field. Check out his production at every depth level from Weeks 8-11:

  • Deep (20+ air yards): 5 catches, 6 targets, 115 yards, 1 touchdown, 4 first downs
  • Intermediate (10-19 air yards): 7 catches, 9 targets, 155 yards, 2 touchdowns, 5 first downs
  • Short (0-9 air yards): 7 catches, 8 targets, 57 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 first downs
  • Behind line of scrimmage: 5 catches, 5 targets, 9 yards

The one area where Moore’s production can improve is behind the line of scrimmage. New York simply has not been able to get anything out of Moore in the screen game. He has been targeted behind the line of scrimmage 10 times this season and has turned those plays into only 27 yards and one first down. Much of that is not Moore’s fault, as the blocking in front of him is usually poor.

It is also possible for Moore to become even more prolific in the deep game. He is making quite a few grabs right in that 20-yard area (hence his average of only 23.0 yards per reception on 20+ yard passes over the past four weeks), but the game-breaking bombs have not been there yet.

Moore is doing his part to create opportunities for those 30, 40, and 50+ yarders – he just needs someone to quit messing around and give him a good ball. He has separated for a multitude of potential deep touchdowns on vertical routes this season in which the quarterback either did not throw him the ball or threw him a bad pass.

Once Moore gets some better blocking on screen passes and some better accuracy on deep passes, it’s over for the rest of the league.

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2 years ago

Michael, excellent positive article as usual. Keep them coming! We need your voice to keep the season enjoyable. You are the best Jets writer, period!

2 years ago

He’s shaping up nicely. It’s all well and good to have him on the outside in the open field where his speed and quickness open things up for him, however in tight quarters like the red zone he’s going to struggle. They just don’t have a big reliable target right now to make contested catches, well, they do but they don’t like Mims. If Moore is going to become the next Hill, then he’s got to do it from everywhere. Love the guy at this point, did at draft time and think he’s a major piece moving forward. Let’s see if he can keep it up against the best CB’s. You know like the guys they have in NE, because they can’t keep being trash against that overrated team.