The NFL trade deadline has come and gone and Elijah Moore remains a Jet. The Jets had absolutely no appetite to trade the disgruntled wide receiver, despite getting several calls from multiple teams trying to prise him away. In short, the Jets didn’t move him because they were never going to get equal value, they saw him as a first-round talent when they drafted him in the second round and nobody was willing to part with a first-round pick.
So now the bridges need to be mended, not only because carrying a disgruntled wide receiver isn’t good for team morale, but because the Jets are a better team when Elijah Moore is in the lineup.
2022 hasn’t gone to plan for Moore, we’re about to enter week 9 and Moore currently ranks #6 in terms of targets for the Jets with 27 which averages out at just under 4 targets per game. That’s a long way behind Garrett Wilson who leads the team with 54, but only 3 behind Corey Davis who has also played just 7 games.
The Jets' passing game hasn’t really flowed this year and you don’t need me to tell you that Zach Wilson is struggling a little bit to find the right reads. The issue for Moore is that he’s had just 6 targets in his last four games and his snap share has plummeted with him playing just 10 snaps and running 7 routes against New England. Considering we played from behind for most of the 2nd half, that doesn’t make a great deal of sense.
Football fans can be defensive by nature, when a player starts acting out during a winning streak it’s frustrating, for fans the team should always come above the individual, and Elijah Moore has admitted that he regrets the trade request being leaked to the public creating a distraction for the team. Moore wants to play and he wants to contribute and while I don’t agree with the way he’s done things, I do understand the frustration and the desire to protect future earnings.
Now Moore has no choice but to work with the Jets to try and get this relationship back on track, and if the Jets are smart, they’ll want to do everything in their power to develop a healthy and happy connection with Moore.
Toward the end of the 2021 season, we saw what Moore could do. Over the course of the last 6 games, before he landed on IR, Moore had 494 scrimmage yards and 5 touchdowns, that works out at 82.3 yards per game and nearly a touchdown a game, if you extrapolate that over an entire season you get around 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, that’s the kind of talent we’re working with here. Rarely does a player have a dominating 6 game streak by accident or by luck, so the Jets need to work out how to get Moore back to that point.
His usage hasn’t changed that much, he spent 28.3% of his snaps in the slot last year and 25.9% of his snaps in the slot this year. Some of his best games last year came when he was in the slot around 25% of the time, his two touchdown games against Indianapolis (24.3% in the slot, 75.7% wide) and his 141-yard, 1 touchdown performance against Miami (25.7% in the slot, 71.4%) being good examples. But to be productive you need to be on the field and you need to be targeted, this year Moore hasn’t seen the field as much with Wilson coming in and he certainly hasn’t been targeted enough. But that doesn’t have to be the case, there is room for both Wilson and Moore on this team, and the sooner Mike LaFleur works out how to get them both on the field the better. Better for the Jets and certainly better for Zach Wilson.
One thing the Jets aren’t doing is using Moore for his yards after the catch ability. Last year 17.6% of his targets were at or behind the line of scrimmage, but this year he hasn’t had a single target behind the line of scrimmage. Most of his targets are coming between 10-20 yards (48.1%) which is a huge jump from last year (31.1%) - Basically, all his behind-the-line targets are being filtered into the medium depth, and while there is nothing wrong with that the Jets are using him more on the boundary which doesn’t give him the desired space to work with and doesn’t allow him to maximize his best assets, route-running, and yards after the catch.
His most targeted area of the field last year was the middle of the field between 10-20 yards, which accounted for 14.9% of all targets, 3 of his 5 touchdowns came in this area. This year that area accounts for just 11.1% of all targets, doesn’t sound like a huge decline but that’s gone from his most targeted area to the 5th most targeted area. The Jets are largely using him on the boundary between 10-20 yards (18.5% on the left, 18.5% on the right).
Garrett is better suited to win on the boundary for the Jets. Working this out will be the key to unlocking the potential of Moore and the Jets passing game.