Robert Saleh's calendar math for NFL greatness is as simple as 1-2-3.
"Everyone can have a really good rookie year," the Jets head coach has said. "The really good ones have a very good second year. And the special ones trigger in the third year."
But can some really special ones accelerate that timetable? Elijah Moore seems focused on doing just that.
"I feel like I've got so much to do, so much to accomplish," Moore told reporters this week during the team's full-squad minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "Really, it's just understanding the offense inside and out. When you understand the offense, you're going to ball. So get on the same page as Zach, score a lot of touchdowns."
And that's not just a hotshot second-year pro wideout giving the media and through them the fans what they want to hear. He's said the same things to his coaches.
"Elijah is cool," offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. "He looked me straight in the eye right after the year last year and said, 'I want to be the best.' He means it, and he puts in that work. For him, it's just going to be that daily grind when we get back."
And to keep Moore grounded now that he's headed home for the dark period on the NFL itinerary, he offered this mantra: "Anybody moving forward is going to go through obstacles. The next day is the next step."
Not to jump the gun and swell the head, but what Moore can be is scary. This chart shows his receiving numbers as a rookie last year, how those numbers would look over 17 games, and how they would look if he could maintain the pace he set in Games 7-12, after he got his pro feet under him and before a quadriceps injury landed him on Injured Reserve for the final five games:
|2021||17-Gm Pace||Gms 7-12 Pace|
Only three Jets — Al Toon in 1988, Laveranues Coles in 2006 and Brandon Marshall in 2015 — have cleared 90 catches in a season. Only two — Don Maynard in 1967 and Marshall — notched 1,300 receiving yards. Only three — Art Powell with the 1960 Titans, Maynard in '65 and Marshall — got to 14 TD catches.
As tempting as it is to rush Moore to that kind of greatness, it's not how he sees himself in the Jets' scheme of things.
"It's the team, of course," he said of the wideouts room that also includes Corey Davis and rookie Garrett Wilson plus Braxton Berrios, Denzel Mims and Jeff Smith. "We're all different. I just feel like there's no way a team should be able to guard three of us, plus all the other guys that are coming along, too. So I feel like we've got a good group."
See photos of the Green & White on the field during the second practice of Mandatory Minicamp week at 1 Jets Drive.
"Those guys have done a really good job," QB Zach Wilson echoed as the young vet who would like to spend all 17 regular-season games trying to complete passes to each of them. "You can see the improvement they've made overall. ... I'm excited about the group that we have."
As for Moore himself, Saleh was asked what he wanted to see out of his exciting young pass-catcher in year two. Short answer: It's not so much about the math as the path.
"Same thing as Zach, take the step in the right direction in terms of your ability to show that you belong in this league for the long haul," the coach said. "Continue to get better, show up the way he shows up every day, bring your best effort every day, and trust that the results will be exactly what you want."