Dolphins CB Xavien Howard: Jets WR Elijah Moore 'going to be special'

The New York Jets found a bright spot in their latest loss: Elijah Moore.

The rookie receiver cashed in a breakout performance against the Miami Dolphins, catching eight of 11 targets for 141 yards and a 62-yard TD from Joe Flacco.

The performance even earned praise from the opposing defense after the Jets’ 24-17 loss to Miami on Sunday.

“He’s going to be special in this league,” Dolphins corner Xavien Howard said, via NJ.com. “He’s a smaller guy, quick guy. He made some tough catches out there, and I respect his game.”

After a great training camp, Moore’s career got off to a slow start. He caught just nine passes on 25 targets for 79 total yards in his first five games played, including a goose egg in Week 5 against Atlanta.

The last few weeks, he’s come on strong. From Weeks 8-10, Moore caught 16 of 20 targets for 195 yards and three TDs. The play foreshadowed Sunday’s big breakout day.

“Really just the more games I get, the more comfortable I feel like I’ve been getting,” Moore said. “I don’t feel like a rookie.”

Moore’s ability to get open and create space with his routes indicates his ability to win versus good corners. According to Next Gen Stats, Moore created 4.2 yards of separation per target and only had a 9.1 tight window target percent (by comparison, Corey Davis had a 28.6 TW%, and Jamison Crowder’s was 14.3% on Sunday).

The rookie also owns run-after-the-catch ability, which was on display on his big TD catch, which pulled the Jets into a 14-14 tie in the third quarter before the Dolphins pulled away. Moore earned 67 total yards after the catch on the afternoon, 25 more than expected, per Next Gen Stats.

“He’s starting to get into a rhythm,” head coach Robert Saleh said postgame. “Had the explosive play, which we all know that he’s capable of. He’s stacking up days, and he’s only gonna get better. He’s gonna be a special kid.”

Moore’s best games have come with Mike White, Josh Johnson, and now Flacco under center. The veteran quarterbacks get the ball out quick and on time, trusting the young receiver to win his route. Now the Jets need the rookie to continue that upward swing whenever classmate Zach Wilson returns.

The rest of the 2021 season in New York is about displaying building blocks for a brighter future. A Moore-Wilson combo lighting up December would be a holiday present every Jets fan could treasure.

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