Aaron Rodgers, NY Jets, Elijah Moore
Aaron Rodgers, Elijah Moore, New York Jets, Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers would get the best out of these New York Jets players

If you’re an offensive skill-position player in the NFL, the unfortunate reality is that your stats are largely contingent on factors that are outside of your control.

Wide receivers can get themselves open all day long, but if their quarterback cannot find them, they are not going to put up numbers, and they will be criticized by fans and media for their lack of production even though it is not their fault.

It goes the other way, too. Quarterbacks can only do so much if their receivers are struggling to get open or catch the ball.

For these reasons, Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets can be a beautiful match.

The Jets offer an intriguing stable of weapons that dwarfs the unit Rodgers worked with in 2022. On the other hand, Rodgers is capable of unlocking the potential of numerous Jets players who have been held back by poor quarterback play.

These three Jets players would be the biggest beneficiaries of Rodgers’ arrival.

WR Elijah Moore

On paper, Elijah Moore had a wildly disappointing second season in 2022. Check out his decline in production compared to a promising rookie year in 2021:

  • 2022 (16 games): 37 catches for 446 yards and 1 touchdown (Per game: 2.3 catches, 27.9 yards) – 5 rushes for 54 yards and 1 touchdown
  • 2021 (11 games): 43 catches for 538 yards and 5 touchdowns (Per game: 3.9 catches, 48.9 yards) – 5 rushes for 5 yards and 0 touchdowns

Moore was expected to develop into a star after the way he finished his rookie season. Over the final six games of his rookie year, Moore averaged 5.7 receptions for 76.5 yards.

Instead, Moore stumbled through a tumultuous sophomore campaign that featured public complaints on social media, a benching, one touchdown in 16 games, and a 21.0-yard decline in receiving yards per game.

That’s bad. But when I turn on the film, I do not see a player who performed at the level those numbers suggest he did. I see a player who was getting open all year but simply was not getting the ball from a group of struggling quarterbacks.

Rodgers would not allow Moore’s good routes to be wasted like this. As long as Moore continues running his routes as effectively as he has been, Rodgers will find him and reward him, translating those route victories into tangible production.

Moore could be Rodgers’ new version of Randall Cobb. For many years, Cobb had great chemistry with Rodgers as Green Bay’s slot receiver. Cobb, like Moore, is 5-foot-10 and thrives as a shifty route-runner from the inside. In 10 seasons with the Packers, Cobb caught 532 passes for 6,316 yards and 47 touchdowns.

Garrett Wilson figures to be the Jets’ No. 1 receiver going forward, but Moore can be a highly productive No. 2 alongside Wilson, similar to Tee Higgins’ role behind Ja’Marr Chase in Cincinnati. With Rodgers at quarterback, I could easily see Moore flirting with 1,000 yards as the Jets’ secondary target.

Cobb was around the 1,000-yard mark at his peak. From 2012 to 2016, Cobb caught 341 passes for 4,113 yards and 34 touchdowns in 66 games. That translates to per-17-game averages of 88 receptions, 1,059 yards, and 9 touchdowns.

If Moore can post those numbers as the Jets’ No. 2 target alongside Davante Adams-esque numbers from Garrett Wilson in the No. 1 role… look out, NFL.

Jet X Offseason Tool 2023 4

RB Breece Hall

Breece Hall showed tremendous potential as a receiver out of the backfield in his rookie season. In only seven games, Hall caught 19 passes for 218 yards and one touchdown, generating 31.1 receiving yards per game on 11.5 yards per reception.

Hall’s elusiveness as a receiver was particularly impressive. He was credited with 8 missed tackles forced on 19 receptions, giving him an average of 0.421 missed tackles forced per reception. That ranked third-best among the 63 running backs with at least 15 receptions.

Rodgers loved using his running backs in the passing game during his three years under offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who now serves as the Jets’ OC. Here are the receiving numbers accumulated by Green Bay’s running backs from 2019 to 2021, and where those numbers ranked across the NFL:

  • Targets per game: 6.3 (4th)
  • Receptions per game: 5.0 (4th)
  • Receiving yards per game: 40.4 (4th)
  • Total receiving touchdowns: 19 (2nd)
  • Receiving yards per target: 6.5 (9th)

During his three seasons with Rodgers and Hackett, the Packers’ lead running back Aaron Jones averaged per-season totals of 56 receptions, 461 receiving yards, and 4 receiving touchdowns. It’s easy to imagine Hall putting up similar numbers with Rodgers and Hackett.

Not only can Rodgers unlock Hall’s potential as a receiver, but Rodgers can make Hall’s life easier as a rusher, too.

In 2022, the Jets’ catastrophic struggles in the passing game prompted opposing defenses to fearlessly stack the box in an effort to stop the run. This made it very difficult for New York to run the football. With Rodgers under center, defenses will be forced to show more respect for the passing game, leaving them unable to aggressively allocate their resources to the run game. More running room will be available for Hall and the Jets’ running backs.

TE Tyler Conklin

Tyler Conklin‘s first season with the Jets was a mixed bag. He finished the year with respectable numbers – 58 receptions for 552 yards and 3 touchdowns – but it didn’t feel as if Conklin had the impact the Jets hoped he would.

Part of this was due to his role. Despite Conklin’s route-running skills being one of the most appealing parts of his game in Minnesota, the Jets mostly used him as a safety blanket underneath. Most of his targets were checkdowns into the flat or on short curl routes.

There were not many concepts in the Jets’ playbook where Conklin was either the first or second read and the ball had a high chance of going to him. I wish the Jets gave Conklin more chances to match up in isolation against linebackers or safeties, which is a mismatch in his favor thanks to his impressive finesse skills as a route-runner. Conklin can be a clutch playmaker in key situations thanks to his one-on-one route-running but we did not see him featured in those situations frequently enough.

Conklin’s utilization in the red zone was particularly puzzling. Over 17 games, the Jets only threw three passes to Conklin while inside of the opponent’s 10-yard line.

Sure enough, all three of those passes resulted in touchdowns.

I believe Rodgers would do a much better job of feeding the football to Conklin in the red zone. Over Rodgers’ 15-year career, the Packers’ tight ends have scored 91 touchdowns, which is an average of 6.1 per year.

There are a few seasons sprinkled in there where Rodgers peppered a ton of touchdowns to one particular tight end. Jermichael Finley caught 8 touchdowns in 2011, Richard Rodgers caught 8 touchdowns in 2015, and most recently, Hackett and Rodgers teamed up to somehow yank 11 touchdowns out of Robert Tonyan in 2020.

I would argue Conklin is a more talented receiver than all three of Finley, Rodgers, and Tonyan. If Rodgers can get those guys to produce seasons with 8-plus touchdowns, he can absolutely do it with Conklin.

Look for Conklin to be a big-time red-zone threat for the Jets if Rodgers comes to town.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds 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[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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