Deep dive on Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore’s Week 9 performance

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Elijah Moore celebrates TD with Jarrad Davis
Elijah Moore celebrates TD with Jarrad Davis

In training camp, rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore looked destined to be a major contributor for the Jets in 2021 as he seemed to come up with a highlight reel play every day and was emerging as one of fellow rookie Zach Wilson’s favorite targets.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way so far as he missed all of preseason due to injuries and then struggled to produce over the first six games. However, over the last couple of weeks, Moore seems to have been the main beneficiary of Corey Davis being out of the lineup and he had his best game so far on Thursday night.

Moore ended up with 84 yards on seven catches, including two touchdowns, as the Jets once again enjoyed a surprising amount of success in the passing game despite Wilson being out with a knee injury.

Let’s break down some of Moore’s key plays…

1st quarter, 4:14. 2nd-and-12 from the Colts’ 45-yard line, as the Jets trail 7-0

The Jets lined up in a bunch set with three wide receivers and Mike White in the shotgun. Moore was the outside receiver on the left side with the slot receiver next to him and the veteran Xavier Rhodes gave him plenty of room in off-coverage. Moore ran a great route, breaking down at the top of his route stem and sharply cutting across the middle for a 26-yard catch down the field.

1st quarter, 3:37. 1st-and-10 from the Colts’ 19-yard line, as they trail 7-0

This was the very next snap from the same formation, apart from the running back was on the other side of the formation. Moore didn’t have to do much here, as the defense completely blew the coverage thanks to Jamison Crowder’s clear-out route. Moore ran an out-and-up and was all alone in the end zone. Notably, this was Moore’s first career touchdown catch, although he did score on an end around a few weeks ago.

3rd quarter, 3:07. 1st-and-10 from the Colts’ 19-yard line

This came from a similar formation to the last two plays, although this time Josh Johnson was under center and the slot receiver was on the other side of the formation, motioning across as the ball was snapped. Working against zone coverage, Moore used his speed to run a crosser into a soft spot in the defense. He also showed good balance to adjust to the throw and stay on his feet to get into the end zone.

Nov 4, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore (8) celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Mike White (5) in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Nov 4, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore (8) celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Mike White (5) in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

4th quarter, 14:53. Jets facing 3rd-and-6 from the Colts’ 45-yard line

The Jets were in an empty set with four wide receivers and Michael Carter aligned as an H-back. This time Moore showed he can produce out of the slot, running an excellent curl route to get open and present Johnson with a good target over the middle.

4th quarter, 4:23. 1st-and-10 from the Colts’ 39-yard line

Once again from the same three-wide formation, Moore displayed an ability to get separation on the outside. He got Isaiah Rodgers, who was playing off, backpedaling with his release off the line, broke to the outside to get separation, then hung onto the catch despite Rodgers closing for a hit as the ball arrived. Moore dropped a pass in a similar situation a few weeks ago, so this is another sign of growth.

In summary, Moore is starting to showcase those abilities that had the Jets – and many draft analysts – enthused about his potential. Having started off with just nine catches on 26 targets over the first six games – for just 79 yards – Moore has been much more efficient over the past two games with 13 catches on 14 targets and he’s also racked up some good yardage and started scoring touchdowns.

One thing he didn’t really show in this game was his ability after the catch. Two pop-pass plays with jet sweep action each went for a loss. However, he’s already shown in previous games that he can be dangerous with the ball in his hands in space.

The remarkable thing about Moore’s emergence is that he’s done it without Davis in the lineup to draw defensive attention away from him and also with the backups rather than Wilson under center. Too often during those first six games, Moore and Wilson didn’t appear to be on the same page. However, they seemed to have established good chemistry in camp, so hopefully that will return once Wilson and Davis are back in the lineup. If it does, Moore could go from strength to strength and start to rack up more big performance like this one until it’s happening every week.