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Jets have hope for future with three rookies impressing on offense

Elijah Moore #8 of the Jets runs a

Elijah Moore #8 of the Jets runs a reception during the third quarter against Dane Jackson #30 of the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

As bad as the Jets have been, they have three rookies on offense who have made impacts and look like building blocks for the future.

That’s in addition to Zach Wilson.

The Jets are Wilson’s team, make no mistake. They hired his personal quarterback coach a few weeks back and are fully committed to nurturing and developing him into the franchise leader they believe he can be.

Wilson is expected to return from a knee injury next week in Houston and with a better understanding of how to run this offense from watching Mike White, Josh Johnson and Joe Flacco execute it.

The Jets need Wilson to catch up to the rookies that were drafted after him and have the organization encouraged about what this offense can be moving forward.

Receiver Elijah Moore is breaking out. Michael Carter has been a productive dual-threat running back. And left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker has been a rock up front.

Rookie no Moore

Moore has played eight NFL games, but the second-round pick from Ole Miss doesn’t consider himself a rookie anymore.

The Jets saw Moore as a Swiss-army-knife type of player who can do a little of everything and be a real weapon in their offense. After a typical slow start for rookies, Moore has taken off.

He has scored four touchdowns in the Jets’ last four games - three receiving and one rushing on a 19-yard end-around. Moore believes this is only the beginning.

"I’m getting more comfortable. More opportunity," he said. "You can’t look at the game no more like I’m a rookie. You just to go out there and you just got to play. That’s old. It’s time to get going."

Moore missed all of preseason with a quad injury. It took him time to get acclimated to the NFL after that.

He had eight catches for 66 yards in his first four games, including a one-catch, minus-3 yard NFL debut.

Moore missed one game with a concussion. Since returning four games ago, Moore has been somewhat of a headache for defenses.

He has 17 catches for 208 yards and 231 scrimmage yards total. Moore saw more targets the two games that Corey Davis missed with a hip injury. The Jets will keep going to Moore with Davis back, hoping the offense can become dynamic

"The only way you get to showcase is based off opportunity," Moore said. "The more that comes the more I get to show."

Moore’s four touchdowns are tied for the Jets’ lead with Carter and Davis and tied for fourth among rookies.

"There’s a lot more out there for him," offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said.

Never a rookie

Carter, a fourth-round pick from North Carolina, hasn’t really played or carried himself like a rookie. That’s because he doesn’t feel like one.

"I never did," Carter said. "All the guys know that. They’d be, ‘What’s up, rook?’ I’m not a rookie. It’s just my first year. That’s what I always used to tell them. I’m not joking, either. I really never felt like a rookie. They drafted me to play."

Carter had 88 scrimmage yards against New England in his second NFL game. He became the starting back the following week.

Over his last six games, Carter has 536 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns. He’s tied with Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris for the rookie lead with four rushing touchdowns. Carter’s 673 scrimmage yards is third among rookies and leads the Jets.

"He handles himself like a vet for sure," running back Tevin Coleman said. "How he comes in prepared, how he takes notes, how he takes care of his body, how he comes in with positive energy. He comes in here like a vet."

Coleman, in his seventh season and with his third team, said it’s "definitely unusual" since it took him two years before he really understood what the Falcons wanted from him.

It didn’t take Carter long.

"He does everything like a vet," Coleman said. "That’s amazing to see.

A guard?

After the Jets took Wilson second overall, they gave up a lot to grab someone who would protect their new franchise quarterback.

General manager Joe Douglas sent the Vikings picks 23, 66 and 86 for Nos. 14 and 143. They used 14 on Vera-Tucker out of USC. Robert Saleh said he goes into Douglas’ office every other day to thank him for getting Vera-Tucker.

"It was worth everything," Saleh said.

Vera-Tucker has allowed one sack, five quarterback hits and 21 hurries on 423 pass-block snaps according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). His PFF run-blocking grade is the fourth-best among rookie. Vera-Tucker also has an impressive 96.5 Pass Block Efficiency, a PFF stat that measures pressure allowed per snap weighted toward sacks.

"Credit to Joe D and his staff," LaFleur said. "Joe D. pinpointed it right away. He said he was going up to get a guard. I didn’t know Alijah that well. I was like, ‘A guard?’ Now I get exactly why he did it. He was spot on. He was the right culture piece and player."

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