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Elijah Moore’s Mini Breakout With Mike White Should Not Have Been a Surprise

Chicago Bears v New York Jets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore finally broke out of his slump in the team’s Week 12 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Prior to Sunday, Moore had a total of 3 catches for 28 yards since Week 5. Of course, Moore’s unofficial one game suspension after his trade request and the subsequent loss of playing time factored into the lack of production.

Moore came back to life against Chicago with a pair of catches of for 64 yards and a touchdown.

It probably should not be a great surprise that the second year receiver started producing once Mike White entered the lineup in place of Zach Wilson. The Jets selected Moore and Wilson together in the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft dreaming of a top notch quarterback-wide receiver connection that could last for a decade.

Nearing the end of their respective second seasons, however, the duo has seldom been on the same page.

What we saw on Sunday was the continuation of an ongoing trend. Moore struggles to produce with Wilson throwing him the ball but has success with other quarterbacks.

Take a look at the Moore’s career numbers when targeted by Wilson against his stats when White, Joe Flacco, or Josh Johnson has thrown him the ball over the last two years.

Wilson: 25/56 (44.6%); 283 yards, 5.1 yards per attempt, 1 TD, 3 INT

White/Johnson/Flacco: 39/60 (65.0%), 556 yards, 9.2 yards per attempt, 5 TD, 3 INT

Now let’s take a look at Moore’s per game stats for his career in contests started by Wilson against games started by other Jets quarterbacks .

Average in Wilson Starts: 1.9 receptions per game, 21.7 yards per game, .07 TD per game

Average in Other QB Starts: 4.7 receptions per game, 67.3 yards per game, .62 TD per game.

Now let’s take these rates and average them out over the course of a full season.

Stats Per 17 Wilson Starts: 32 receptions, 369 yards, 1 TD

Stats Per 17 Other QB Starts: 80 receptions, 1,144 yards, 11 TDs

Now keep in mind these are small sample sizes. Moore has played 13 games Wilson started and 8 games other quarterbacks started.

Still the numbers are rather stark. Moore has essentially produced like a replacement level receiver with Zach Wilson throwing him the ball and like a legitimate number one option with anybody else at quarterback.

It is difficult to pinpoint one reason. The factors are probably complex. My guess is that Zach Wilson will receive too high a proportion of the blame as he is currently struggling. When people regarded Wilson higher and were frustrated with Moore, the receiver probably got too much of the blame.

I have noticed a palpable lack of chemistry between the two. On timing routes the duo has regularly lived in different time zones.

It is difficult to say precisely where the blame falls. Certainly chemistry between wide receiver and quarterback is something that can improve over time so it would be premature to completely rule out Wilson-Moore being a productive tandem in the future.

In the present, however, a quarterback change certainly seems to be a key part of the recipe to unlock Elijah Moore.