Jets finally have talent and depth at wide receiver

Elijah Moore delivered a move during the Jets’ and Falcons’ joint practice on Friday that drew gasps of exclamation from everyone who witnessed it.

It was the second play of a period of competition between the Jets’ offense and the Falcons’ defense at the end of practice. Joe Flacco floated the pass just over the outstretched hands of Falcons cornerback Casey Hayward. Moore stopped him and then moved up the sideline with some open space. When he saw Atlanta safety Dean Marlowe approaching, Moore delivered a hard feint inside and then bounced outside, leaving Marlowe spinning.

The play went for 42 yards and showed that after years of missing playmakers, this Jets team could be different.

Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore, returning a punt during a recent practice, made a big catch during a joint practice with the Falcons.
bill kostroun

Moore was just one of several wide receivers who made big plays against the Falcons on Friday. Moore had five catches and was all over the field. Rookie Garrett Wilson made a beautiful diving catch on a return route along the sideline. Braxton Berrios caught a touchdown. Corey Davis had two receptions in a two-minute stretch. Denzel Mims made a jumping catch.

“It’s a really good group,” head coach Robert Saleh said. “It’s a young group that has to learn to play with each other and really raise their game at the moment of truth. Getting your work done, running your routes, creating separation is not a problem with this group. It’s going to be the moment of truth, catching the ball and making something happen, yards after catches, explosive plays and what you do with the ball in your hands. That is something they are building towards and will continue to improve.”

You have to go back to 2015 to find the most recent 1,000-yard receiver for the Jets. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker did it that year. Since then, there have been receivers like Jermaine Kearse, Robbie Anderson and Jamison Crowder leading the team in receptions with low totals for top receivers. All of them are good receivers, but none of them were consistent playmakers.

Crowder, who led the Jets in receptions the three years he was here, had just 51 catches to be the best pass catcher last year.

Elijah Moore
Elijah Moore is among the new Jets playmakers hoping to reinvigorate the team.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

When Saleh was hired by the Jets before last season, he and general manager Joe Douglas discussed upgrading the position. Crowder led the team in receptions in 2020, the year before Saleh arrived, and the perceived No. 1 receiver was Breshad Perriman.

Since Saleh’s arrival, the Jets have signed Corey Davis in free agency, selected Moore in the second round of the 2021 draft and selected Garrett Wilson in the first round this year. The influx of talent is clear in practice.

“They are the ones who touch the ball,” Saleh said. “The backs touch the ball, the quarterback touches the ball and the receivers touch the ball. If you don’t have explosive playmakers at those positions, guys that can take those 5, 6, 7, 8 yard routes and turn them into 20, 25, 30, then you’re going to have to spend 10 to 15 plays trying to score points, which which is very difficult to do in this league. You have to be able to have scoring units of 5, 6, 7 plays. You have to be able to move the ball fast. You have to be able to get big yards. We feel like we’ve built a group of receivers that are capable of that and now they have to make it happen.”

Moore was the star of Friday practice and has the potential to be the No. 1 receiver in his second season with the Jets. He could be the leader of a strong receiving corps.

“It hasn’t even sniffed the surface, let alone scratched, of what we think it will be capable of,” Saleh said.

Flacco, who has been in the NFL since 2008, compared Moore to Steve Smith, his former Ravens teammate.

“His ability to stop and start is very, very, very rare,” Flacco said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve seen someone who can stop as well as him.”

Leave a Reply