New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore is a new-era stud
In August, there was little doubt that rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore was set for superstardom. From Week 1 up until the Cincinnati Bengals victory, more than a little doubt crept in when the kid’s New York Jets future was pondered.
Today, those who questioned No. 8’s eventual stud status have no choice but to feel a bit silly.
The kid should have never been doubted.
Moore, 21, put forth his first-ever 100-yard NFL game in the Jets’ 24-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium this past Sunday. And he did so with authority.
The Ole Miss product collected 141 yards and a touchdown on eight grabs. Better yet, he showcased exactly why his undoubted future stud status in the big-boy football league is more than deserved.
Elijah Moore is the perfect NFL 2021 weapon, as he excels with both physical attributes and in-between-the-ears prowess.
Elijah Moore’s smarts create 62-yard touchdown
Elijah Moore’s 62-yard touchdown against the Dolphins looked pretty simple on the surface: an explosive receiver took a well-placed Joe Flacco ball to the house after beating the cover man—cornerback Byron Jones.
In reality, a simple description doesn’t cover things.
Moore explained that he adjusted his route based on Miami’s defensive look.
“I felt the pressure the way the first nickel blitzed, so I knew I had to speed my route up,” Moore told reporters after the Jets’ Week 11 loss to the Dolphins. “The route was probably like 10 yards; I think I went eight. So, I just kind of felt it out and adjusted.”
Take note of Moore in the video above. Jamison Crowder motions into a stack look in a Jets’ third-and-8 situation. Brian Flores’s defense is in a zero-blitz pre-snap look—which served as Moore’s cue to speed up the route.
Five Dolphins defenders ultimately rush Flacco, but it would have been six if not for Ty Johnson bolting for the flat (Two defenders were in a green dog responsibility, including the boundary-side linebacker responsible for the tight end.)
So, whether or not any of the Dolphins at-the-line defenders dropped wasn’t the first priority. Instead, Moore understood that speeding up the route was a must in the event Miami sent seven or eight players.
Moore’s release is fine, especially considering it wasn’t a press situation, but the way he creates space is the other special callout here.
Notice how Moore stems the route to the outside.
This is critical as it gives Flacco enough room to the inside to deliver a well-placed ball. Take note of the cornerback’s (Jones) positioning on the play, too. He’s in an outside-shade look, which forces Moore to try to get even after the snap.
The cherry on top is how quick and smooth Moore is out of the break.
Jones makes a critical mistake by playing Moore too far to the outside—as his inside help, the bailing middle-of-the-field safety has his back to the action—but Moore made sure to make him pay for it with his smarts.
The greatest difference in today’s offensive football as opposed to your father’s version is this: The rushing game is no longer a necessity.
Would it be a smart move to completely neglect the rushing game? Absolutely not. But the notion that it’s critical to an offense with the way today’s rules play out is a silly one.
The 2011 New York Giants won the Super Bowl after finishing dead last in rushing. Last year’s champs, Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, finished 28th in rushing with just 94.9 yards per game. The year before that, 2019, featured the champion Kansas City Chiefs finishing 23rd.
Champions don’t need to rush the ball—as long as they have other ways to manufacture the running game, and this means possessing a weapon that can execute a myriad of tasks.
Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s intent to get Moore involved early against Miami was obvious. After he caught a tough one on the sideline after a quick out, LaFleur decided to manufacture touches for the kid.
First, he gained 15 yards on a swing after an orbit motion (it shows up in the box score as a 15-yard rush). Then, after two incompletions on his next two targets, Flacco simply threw it to him with the Dolphins in off coverage, and the Jets asked him to make something happen.
In a second-and-6 situation, Flacco simply throws it to Moore in the slot with the off coverage. A quick play-action with zone movement flows the defense away from the play-side, and Moore nearly picks up a first.
Get him involved as soon and as much as possible
LaFleur and Flacco ensured that Moore was involved as soon as the second half opened. On the very first play after halftime, Moore found 22 yards through the air.
On the ensuing drive, Moore catches three consecutive Flacco passes, the last of which goes for 22 yards on a beautifully-run deep out.
Playing against a clear man situation, Moore stems the route a bit to the inside in order to get the cornerback to turn to the inside. (The corner here is All-Pro Xavien Howard, by the way.) This allows Moore a clear break to the sideline, for which Flacco delivers.
After the mesmerizing 62-yard touchdown (covered at the top), the Jets could muster just one more touch for Moore the rest of the way. His lone fourth-quarter reception resulted in an 11-yard output.
There isn’t much to say about this one other than, “What a tremendous catch.”
Only three times did a Moore target result in an incompletion, which is just more reason that LaFleur will get the kid heavily involved this Sunday against the Houston Texans (Zach Wilson’s comeback game) and beyond.
The days of needing a taller sideline threat that can go up and get it at the high-point are over. Not that NFL teams stay away from those guys—as that prototype is still incredibly valuable—but the idea that other prototypes can assume stud status is what’s important.
Elijah Moore may not be a high-point receiver, but that’s more than OK.
In today’s league where guys like 5-foot-10 Tyreek Hill dominate on a routine basis, thanks to the absurd rules that discriminate against defensive players, the Jets’ No. 8 is perfect.
He can catch it, run with it, operate from the slot, the jet-motion and even outside. The kid can do it all from both a physical attribute perspective and an overall football smarts notion.
Elijah Moore is the new-era stud weapon the New York Jets have been seeking for quite some time.