Jets’ success helps Robert Saleh reel in disgruntled receivers Elijah Moore, Denzel Mims
It’s funny how winning can cure a lot of issues quickly; just ask Jets coach Robert Saleh how it’s working out for his team.
Just three weeks ago, second-year receiver Elijah Moore wanted out. Frustrated with his lack of opportunities in offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s offense, Moore was ready for a fresh start elsewhere.
Instead, Saleh gave Moore what essentially amounted to an in-school suspension, bringing the receiver into the building for workouts but keeping him at home while the Jets traveled to Denver. Knowing that deep down, Moore simply wanted to help the team, Saleh wasn’t going to relent that easily.
A few weeks later, it seems as if Moore is back on board, even if he hasn’t recorded a reception since the request.
“We’re trying to find him more opportunities in the slot,” Saleh told CBS Sports HQ’s Josina Anderson in an interview this week. “I think he had 27 plays last week. Elijah’s a great football player. He’s gonna be a big reason why we win here for a very long time.
“Obviously, it’s on coaches to continue to find ways to get him the ball, find ways to get him opportunities. It’s a new position, because we’ve been playing him outside for the most part, so we’re trying to find ways to utilize all of his strengths.”
Moore wasn’t the only receiver displeased with his situation in New York this season. Denzel Mims requested a trade in August in a much more aggressive manner, with his agent stating, “It’s clear he does not have a future with the Jets.”
The narrative has since shifted on him, too. Mims has recorded at least one reception in each of his last three games, and although the statistical production isn’t there yet, it seems as if he’s engaged and interested in helping the Jets reach their greatest goals.
Saleh explained the mental aspect of being a frustrated skill-position player on a team attempting to turn the corner toward legitimacy. He sees it in both of his team’s former second-round picks and believes they play an important role beyond the box score.
“It is tough, because you’re trying to sell to them to come in, do your job, just stay focused on the team, all that stuff,” Saleh said. “And it’s hard, because they want all the great things this league has to offer with regards to production and fame and all that stuff.
“But it’s a two-way street and I think that’s where you look at a guy like Denzel, who over the last month completely flipped the script in terms of his approach to this game and the way he’s been attacking it and the positive nature in which he’s doing it. Because the reality is, when you start thinking about all the things you have zero control over, and from a young person’s standpoint it’s really hard to grasp this … the more you focus on all that, the less you focus on what you can bring to the table. … The more you try to chase things you have zero control over … the more you hurt yourself.”
Call it good PR, or just a byproduct of scoring the best win of your season over a top-tier NFL team that also happens to be a division rival. No matter the cause, Saleh makes it seem as if Mims is fully invested in the Jets, and Moore isn’t far behind. With the holidays coming up, the good vibes are palpable in Florham Park.
“To his credit, I know there was the trade request, but he’s been great,” Saleh said of Moore. “He’s got a great attitude, he is a great teammate, his teammates love him, he’s always right there.
“When you get frustrated — players can get frustrated, I can get frustrated when you’re just chasing production and things you have zero control over. But Elijah’s built the right way. He’s got a great mindset. I still stand by the character we draft in terms of the young man coming from Ole Miss and who he is and what he represents. But as the season goes, I think people will start seeing him become more and more of a fixture in the offense in terms of a role specifically designed for him.”
The season of giving is right around the bend, and Saleh isn’t shy about doling out credit for his younger players who might not be as important as they’d like at this stage of their careers. It’s important because Saleh knows the Jets will likely need every single member of the 53-man roster (and then some) if they go as far as he believes they can.
At 6-3, they’re certainly positioned for a playoff run. Perhaps in that moment, players like Moore and Mims will look back and realize all they needed was patience — not packing peanuts.
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