Elijah Moore provided a glimpse of his potential in 2021
The wide receiver position is certainly a glaring need for the New York Jets entering the 2022 offseason. After all, New York’s wide receiver unit generated only 7.1 yards per target in 2021, which ranked 25th out of the league’s 32 wide receiver units.
Without a bona fide star wide receiver on the roster, the Jets will likely be in the market to make a big splash at the position, whether it be through free agency, a trade, or the draft.
But what if the Jets already have their long-term No. 1 wide receiver?
Selected by the Jets with the 34th overall pick in the 2021 draft, rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore finished as the Jets’ leader in receiving yards (538) and receiving touchdowns (5) despite missing six games.
Moore’s performance over his final few games of the season was a sneak peek into just how good he could possibly become.
Elijah Moore’s run from Weeks 8-13 was special
In Week 8, backup quarterback Mike White took the reigns for an injured Zach Wilson and led the Jets to a 511-yard offensive explosion in a 34-31 win over the future AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals. From there on out, the Jets’ offense was much more competent than it was over the team’s first six games of the year. New York averaged 20.9 points over its final 11 games versus 13.3 points over its first six.
Elijah Moore played a big role in that turning-point Bengals game, catching all six of his targets for 67 yards and a trio of first downs. That performance kickstarted a surge in Moore’s production that continued all the way up until his season abruptly ended in Week 13 due to a quad injury.
Here is a peek at some of Moore’s numbers over six games from Weeks 8-13 and where they ranked among all wide receivers in the NFL over that span:
- 51 targets (7th)
- 34 receptions (9th)
- 459 receiving yards (6th)
- 5 receiving touchdowns (T-1st with Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen)
- 177 routes run (23rd)
- 2.59 yards per route run (6th out of 66 qualified WR)
Over his final six games of the year, Moore averaged 5.7 receptions for 76.5 yards and 0.83 touchdowns per game. Those numbers would put him on pace for approximately 96 receptions, 1,300 yards, and 14 touchdowns per 17 games.
That sounds like the stat-line of a “WR1” if I’ve ever heard one.
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As great as Moore’s box-score stats look, his impact over that stretch becomes even more impressive when you dig deeper into the numbers.
A team’s No. 1 receiver is supposed to make his quarterback look better. Moore did just that over his final six games.
New York’s quarterbacks struggled in 2021, but during Moore’s shot streak, they looked like stars when throwing the ball Moore’s way. White, Wilson, Joe Flacco, and Josh Johnson combined for a passer rating of 78.6 when throwing to any Jet besides Moore from Weeks 8-13. But when throwing to Moore over that span, they had a passer rating of 127.0.
Throwing to Moore boosted the Jets quarterbacks’ passer rating by a whopping 48.4 points. For reference, a 48.4-point margin is equal to the difference between the 2021 passer ratings of Aaron Rodgers (league-leading 111.9) and Lions quarterback Tim Boyle (63.5, which was better than only Mike Glennon out of the 45 quarterbacks with at least 90 passes).
Moore’s 127.0 passer rating when targeted ranked sixth-best among qualified wide receivers from Weeks 8-13.
The cherry on top of it all is the fact that Moore was credited with only one drop over this span. He joined Stefon Diggs, Hunter Renfrow, Diontae Johnson, Keenan Allen, and Cooper Kupp as the only wideouts with more than 30 receptions and fewer than two drops from Weeks 8-13.
This was merely a six-game run for Moore, so it’s no guarantee that he will extrapolate this production over full seasons for the rest of his career. The Jets cannot bank on him being a 96/1,300/14 type of player (or anything close to that) until he proves it, so for that reason, they should absolutely still be on the prowl for a top-tier wide receiver this offseason.
With that being said, Moore’s standout stretch to close his rookie season provided an exciting glimpse of how special the Ole Miss product has the potential to be.
Yeah, i know a lot of jets fans k8nda have their hearts set on a wr at 10 overall. But jets could be seeing moores upside and davis’s drops returning to normal and could not heavily invest at wr. They maybe just handle the midrange guys either signing them or replacing them and maybe throw a dart in the 4th or 5th. Theres just so many needs. But yea id like to add a top dog instead of banking on development. Cant be messing around with the qbs future. But i could see the merit if the jets dont invest big
Moore can be a very good and possibly great wide receiver if he can stay on the field. Missing a lot of games is not going to cut it. The great ones don`t miss many games. And that is the truth.
Durability is absolutely crucial. He was certainly injury prone throughout the offseason and then into the regular season. Something that has to be tidied up if he’s going to fulfill his potential
It’s such an unfortunate part of sports. Something that players have very little (if any) control over yet it’s an essential part of determining their success
I too worry about his durability.
He looked special during the few weeks he was playing. Berrios and Moore could be a sick duo next year if the Jets bring him back. We could always use a star receiver like Ridley but there’s no telling the future. I don’t think receiver is as big of a hole as some people are pitching it to be. Great article, though.
All going to come down to their own self-evaluation, I think. If they believe Moore is the guy his late-season numbers project him to be, and they think Davis is going to be closer to who he was in 2020 than 2021, then I think they could stay fairly conservative at WR. If they’re not 100% sold on either of those things + want to go all-out toward doing whatever they can to help Wilson, I think they’ll make an aggressive play for another starter. Will be interesting to watch their approach here.
I know he can line up anywhere, but is he more effective in the slot where the Jets can utilize him like Deebo?
I’m actually a lot more impressed with his route-running more so than anything so in my opinion I think he should be utilized like a true outside receiver. He can be given a screen or end-around or jet sweep now and then but I think using him in a gadgety way would be a waste of his elite route-running skills. While I like him as a ball-carrier I’m not as impressed with that aspect of his game as his short/intermediate separation and hands.
Numbers wise Moore was noticeably better outside versus in the slot
I think that’s the role that’s perfect for Berrios or whoever they find to replace him – a guy who is great with the ball in his hands but isn’t necessarily an amazing all-around wide receiver