FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)Elijah Moore sent the expectations for his rookie year soaring through the spring and summer with an outstanding offseason.
The New York Jets wide receiver is still looking to make an impact in the regular season.
Moore, a second-round pick out of Mississippi, has eight catches for 66 yards in four games. While Jets fans wonder when he’ll be a bigger part of an offense that’s sorely in need of some big plays, Moore remains patient. And confident.
”I feel like we’re very close,” Moore said Wednesday. ”This is about execution. I’m really not worried. Everybody goes through obstacles. Stuff like this happens all the time. My mind’s right, my mind’s clear. I’m just trying to get on the same same page as my quarterback and my team so we can win.”
Entering the season, Moore was projected to be an immediate playmaker for Zach Wilson and the Jets’ offense – in large part because of his impressive performances in minicamp, workouts and training camp.
Instead, New York has struggled to get much going, especially in the first half of games, and Moore has been almost an afterthought.
He has been targeted only 20 times, which is surprising in itself. The fact he ranks tied for fifth on the team in receptions is even more stunning.
”Elijah Moore, he’s a baller and his time is coming, just like the rest of us,” Wilson said last week. ”I wish I could get him the ball more. I know that’s part of my job. I know he’s a dominant player and I need to get him the ball more.”
But it’s not just on Wilson. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur also needs to find ways to use Moore’s combination of speed and pass-catching ability more consistently.
At Ole Miss, Moore was primarily a slot receiver who saw a large volume of throws come his way. With the Jets, he’s being used mostly on the outside opposite Corey Davis. The Jets have one of the league’s top slot receivers in Jamison Crowder.
”I feel like wherever they put me, I can get it done,” Moore said. ”Inside, outside, it really doesn’t matter.”
Moore played 86% of the offensive snaps in the opener at Carolina and 78% against New England in Week 2. It was down to 48% at Denver, where he suffered a concussion late. After sitting out a week, Moore returned to play 41% of the snaps against Atlanta in London.
”The great thing is that he’s still getting on the field,” Saleh said. ”Yeah, we want to get the ball on his hands more, of course we do. But the positive taken out of this is that he is getting these reps, he’s getting game action, he’s going through the rigors of an offensive game, he’s getting hit, he’s having to block, he’s getting experience, all of it.
”So, he’s getting better and there’s visual evidence when you watch tape.”
But the stats haven’t been there at all.
And Moore insists he’s not worried about any of that.
”I wouldn’t really say, like, (I’m) disappointed,” he said. ”I know it’s all a learning lesson. I know what’s important, and that’s winning. It’s not really about me. I know it’s about winning. And that’s really all that matters. If we won every game and I had zero stats, it wouldn’t really matter. So that’s the ultimate goal of I think everyone in this building.”
The Jets haven’t done much winning just yet, though, opening the season 1-4. They face AFC East rival New England on the road Sunday, and it’s hard to not think Moore having more of a role might lead to more success on the field – and on the scoreboard.
”Honestly, Elijah has a really good head on his shoulders,” Davis said. ”He’s not depressed about it or anything. He wants to do more to help the team, but he knows it’s going to come.”
That breakout game game could be on the way, and soon.
”It’s only a matter of time,” Moore said. ”I have to think like that. I have to go in thinking I have to be ready. That’s the approach I take.”
Moore was held without a catch in the 27-20 loss to the Falcons, but he provided one of the Jets’ few bright spots on offense. He drew a 41-yard pass interference penalty that helped lead to Michael Carter’s 2-yard touchdown run that cut New York’s deficit to 20-17 in the fourth quarter.
”He’s been a factor in games,” Saleh said. ”He’s doing a lot of good things. He’s just got to stick to it and trust that good things will happen.”
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