Breakout Is ‘Imminent’ for Jets 22-Year-Old: ‘It’s Clear’

Robert Saleh, Jets

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh on the sideline during an NFL game.

The New York Jets found several interesting pieces last year that could prove to be building blocks for the future.

One of those players is projected to break out in 2022 and that could have a major ripple effect on the rest of the team.

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Get Your Popcorn Ready

Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus did a column on ESPN where he ranked the top second-year breakout candidates heading into 2022.

Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore ranked third on this list and Renner believes his breakout is “imminent”:

“This breakout might have already happened in 2021 were it not for New York’s quarterback situation and the fact that Moore missed the last five games of his rookie campaign with a quad injury. Flip on the tape, and it’s clear Moore can get open. Fellow rookie Zach Wilson simply couldn’t find him in rhythm enough.

For the other Jets quarterbacks who filled in when Wilson went down for four weeks with a posterior cruciate ligament injury, finding Moore wasn’t a problem. In those contests, Moore averaged 2.92 yards per route with four touchdowns. In the other seven games with Wilson at the helm, the rookie receiver averaged 1.05 yards per route with only one score.

While that obviously means Moore’s breakout hinges heavily on Wilson showing considerably improved mastery of the offense in Year 2, it also means the breakout is imminent if Wilson does make that leap.”

Of course, that potential breakout to stardom has one caveat, the progress of second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. Duh.

Wilson for what it’s worth didn’t crack the 15-player list from PFF for breakout candidates next season.

The one big takeaway from last year is Moore succeeded in not-so-great situations.

Moore got hurt during training camp and got off to a slow start. Then his quarterback got injured and was forced to miss four games in the middle of the season. That forced the former Ole Miss product to play ball with a handful of journeymen backup quarterbacks.

Despite those less than ideal circumstances, the talented receiver made chicken salad out of chicken s***:

  • 43 catches
  • 538 receiving yards
  • Six total touchdowns

Whenever you got the ball in Moore’s hands, good things happened. Pro Football Focus awarded him outstanding grades for his 2021 campaign with a 71.2 overall grade, 73.8 receiving grade, and a 66.4 rushing grade.

What Could That Look Like?

So a lot of people have highlighted Moore as a possible breakout candidate this year. While that praise is certainly nice to hear, it begs the question, what does that look like?

Fantasy Pros projects him to have seven total touchdowns, 62 receptions, with over 900 total yards from scrimmage.

Shawn Childs of Sports Illustrated was even more aggressive in predicting that Moore will finish as the No. 16 wide receiver in fantasy football next season:

  • 1,126 receiving yards
  • Seven receiving touchdowns
  • 87 receptions

If that were to happen, Moore would finish 16th in the Jets’ single-season receiving yards record books. Although even more impressive is his placement at No. 16 versus No. 3 on that list is only separated by 171 yards.

This would be a spectacular season and quite frankly one that is completely within the realm of possibilities.

If you divide that up across a 17-week schedule, Moore would simply have to average 5.11 catches per game and 66.23 receiving yards per game. Nothing crazy to ask for when you look at it like this.

This brings us back full circle to the only other caveat outside of quarterback play which is health. Moore had a really good rookie season, even with missing six games.

If he was able to stay healthy and the quarterback play improved, then Moore should very much be in the conversation for a major breakout in 2022.

The only thing more exciting than that is the fact that Moore is still only 22 years of age.

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