Here are some ways the New York Jets can use snaps vacated by Elijah Moore
New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur suddenly has a new task on his hands: figuring out how to replace Elijah Moore.
After the second-year wide receiver publicly complained about his lack of goals and demanded a trade, the Jets decided to keep him out of Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos. It is not known when he will dress again.
In the meantime, LaFleur must figure out what to do with the snaps vacated by Moore’s exit. Moore has played in 83% of the Jets’ offensive snaps this year. Who will assume these shots on Sunday?
This is how I see him playing.
I think the most likely scenario involves Garrett Wilson taking on Moore’s role as the starting X receiver and Braxton Berrios filling Wilson’s shoes in the slot.
For Wilson, that would likely mean a significant increase in snaps. Wilson is playing just 59% of the Jets’ offensive snaps this season compared to Moore’s 83%.
I proposed earlier this week that the Jets swap roles between Wilson and Moore, moving Wilson to the X and Moore to the slot. It looks like we might see Wilson at the X after all.
Moore has run a starting route on 33% of his passing plays this season, ranking 14th among all wide receivers. It didn’t work for Moore, who has a small frame and struggles in ball-jumping situations. But that might suit Wilson, who excels in acrobatic mid-air holds.
Berrios is the clear WR4 of this team. He ranks fourth among wide receivers on the team with a snap percentage of 28%, more than double the Jets’ WR5 Jeff Smith, who sits at 13%.
So, it makes sense that Berrios would be the next man should one of the Jets’ top three receivers come out.
Berrios, of course, is a pure slot receiver. If he enters a starting role, he will have to play there. That’s why Wilson would have to move if Berrios joined the starting lineup.
As mentioned, Wilson has played 59% of the snaps this season, so I could see Berrios jumping to quite a number in that quarter.
With Berrios joining the starting lineup, Jeff Smith can move up one spot on the depth chart to fill Berrios’ shoes as a WR4 weapon/gadget. Smith is a converted quarterback with stellar speed (4.34), so I think he would do very well in this role. It will be a threat on the movement of the jets and also offers the possibility of skipping a turn.
Finally, Denzel Mims could replace Smith as the fifth wide receiver. The Jets have used five wide receivers in every game this year. Smith played 13% of offensive snaps, taking the field for 11.0 snaps per game. I think Mims will get instant count in this range.
New York can focus using Mims in short-range and red-zone situations. In those scenarios, the 6-foot-3 Mims can be a threat on fade routes while his blocking ability keeps him useful if the Jets head the ball.
In terms of roles and positions on the depth chart, here’s a summary of how I see things playing out for the wide receiver position:
- X: Garrett Wilson
- Z: Corey Davis
- Slot Machine: Braxton Berrios
- WR4: Jeff Smith
- WR5: Denzel Mims
The next question is exactly how many snaps each of them will play. Although I have established some average percentages for the season that can be used as guidelines, these numbers vary considerably from week to week. For example, Moore played up to 94% of snaps (Week 3 vs CIN) and as low as 58% (Week 6 vs GB).
It all depends on the use of the Jets personnel.
Last week, the Jets used their 12-man package (1 RB/2 TE/2 WR) on a season-high 34% of their games. They also used 21 personnel (2 RB/1 TE/2 WR) on a season high of 15%. Those increases in two-receiver sets led the Jets to use 11 people (1 RB/1 TE/3 WR) on a season low of 38% of games, leading Moore (58%) and Wilson ( 44%) to register. season-low snap percentages.
If the Jets stick to last week’s plan — or even expand on it considering they lost a starting catcher — we could see the Jets’ new catcher lineup limited to a fairly limited number of snaps while tight ends Tyler Conklin and CJ Uzomah are featured as mainstays. Last week, Conklin played 67% of snaps while Uzomah played a season-high 78%.
However, there’s a chance the Jets will start using a lot of 11 again this week.
When researching the Broncos defense, I found that they are significantly better at defending 12 people than 11 people – especially against the run. Denver allows 2.7 yards per carry against 12 (3rd best) and 5.8 yards per carry against 11 (4th worst). If the Jets want to continue their field-and-pound mentality, 11 staffers are their best bet.
New York is also much better at rushing 11 people than 12 people. The Jets are averaging 3.6 yards per carry with 12 (22nd) and 5.4 yards per carry with 11 (11th). Maybe they don’t need to rely too heavily on two-TE sets to run the game well.
Plus, the Jets’ 11-man staff package could be even more dangerous against the run with this new group of receivers. Wilson is an upgrade on Moore as an X-point blocker. Berrios is a bigger jet-motion threat than Wilson in the slot. Add to those factors Corey Davis’ outstanding blocking, and the idea of the Jets establishing their ground game using a ton of 11s becomes quite enticing.
The 11-person racing game can then set up an action-game success. If the Jets ask Broncos defensemen to respect the run in 11 personal situations, the play-action advantage will be incredibly high given there are three wide receivers on the field instead of two.
New York has used 11 personnel on 74% of its offensive snaps in the first four games, ranging from 68% to 84% in each of those first four games. This dropped to 57% in week 5 and then to 38% in week 6.
If the Jets employ a big increase of 11 people from last week I think we’ll see Uzomah’s snaps drop sharply while Berrios, Wilson and Smith will see huge increases with the Mims making a respectable number of cameos .
If the Jets stick with last week’s heavy use of 12, we’ll likely only see a bit of Smith or Mims while Wilson and Berrios each hover around the 50% mark.
Ultimately, I think the Jets will find common ground. It seems like they believe in the identity of the heavyweight personnel they’ve been able to establish over the past two weeks with favorable play scripts, but I also think they’ll recognize the weaknesses in that Denver defense and move on. will adjust accordingly by using more three-receiver sets.
Here’s my instant tally prediction for the Jets’ offense against Denver:
- WR Corey Davis: 85%
- WR Garrett Wilson: 80%
- TE Tyler Conklin: 70%
- RB Breece Hall: 67%
- WR Braxton Berrios: 57%
- TE CJ Ouzomah: 55%
- RB Michael Carter: 48%
- WR Jeff Smith: 28%
- WR Denzel Mims: 10%