The Jets’ secret weapon this season certainly won’t be Plaxico Burress or Santonio Holmes.
Chances are, the biggest addition to the offense will be sitting in his South Carolina home for much of this year, watching the game on television. Meet Tom Moore, who will literally be the team's armchair quarterback — well, armchair consultant.
For over a dozen years, Moore was the offensive coordinator of the high-powered Colts offense — one of the most dynamic passing attacks in NFL history. Moore is credited with being the mastermind behind quarterback Peyton Manning’s ability to rewrite the record books.
Moore retired at the end of last year and this past June joined the Jets as a consultant to the offense.
“I’d known Rex for a long time, having competed against him. I have great respect for him,” Moore told Metro. “This spring, (offensive line coach) [Bill] Callahan called me and asked me if I’d be interested in consulting. I came up for a couple days and I’m here now.”
He’s “here now,” but that may not last too long.
Moore’s role with the team is strictly as a consultant — and while he will be present during training camp, he won’t be actively engaged in game-planning on a weekly basis.
Moore is a throwback, the kind of coach who would be just as much at home coaching on a dusty field in Oklahoma with a bunch of fresh-faced high schoolers as he is working with multi-millionaire All Pros in the NFL. One thing that is obvious about Moore is that he’s always teaching -- taking each and every break to instruct and give guidance. Even during the morning practice, which under the new collective bargaining agreement is limited to being just a walk-thru session, Moore is rushing up to players after a drill to give direction and insight.
The 72-year-old is a site to see -- with his wisps of white hair and roll-up white tube socks -- as he tries to put his arm around tight end Dustin Keller or one of the 300-lb. offensive linemen.
“It doesn’t get much better than having Tom Moore sitting in that room with you. So we’re really excited about some things. Obviously, he’s been here already during the offseason working on a lot of things,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “I think it’s going to be a great thing for us. We weren’t the only team that was trying to get Tom Moore.”
For much of last year, Schottenheimer was the whipping boy of fans -- a unit with plenty of star power which somehow seemed to consistently fall flat. While even the most optimistic of Jets fans would be hard pressed to imagine this year’s offense being as good as the juggernaut numbers put up by the Colts, Moore sees plenty of potential from this unit and continued growth from quarterback Mark Sanchez.
“I think the offenses can be very similar. The Jets do more two-back stuff because they’ve got a good fullback and you have to use the players you have to fit into the system,” Moore said. “But Sanchez is special, the kid is just special. He’s won a lot of game in this league the past two years and he’s now really starting to grow.”
Camp news and notes
The talk the last couple days around the Jets Atlantic Health Training Center was the quick acclimation of rookie, first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson. Head coach Rex Ryan wasted no time in announcing, as of Day 2 in training camp, that Wilkerson was a starter along the line.
That puts in perspective Ryan’s comments yesterday on Kenrick Ellis, the team’s second overall player taken in April’s NFL Draft, and a bit of a project. The third-round pick has performed well, but still has strides to make.
Ellis is a big-bodied player with potential. He's a product of Hampton University, but transferred there from Clemson after character issues forced him to leave the team. While Ellis is the prototypical nose tackle in the Jets' 3-4 alignment -- a space-eater who jams up the middle and provides pressure -- there is still a steep learning curve for the rookie third-round pick. When asked who is helping him acclimate to the NFL, Ellis singled out veteran defensive linemen Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito.
“I look towards them. Everything they do, I try to imitate it, perfect it in my own way,” Ellis said. “They’re quick, they’re strong, they’re physical. They’re Jets defensive tackles, and I’m just trying to do my best.”
Mr. Smith Goes to Florham Park: It may have been a bit of a surprise, but the Jets decided earlier this week to re-sign safety Eric Smith, a player forever linked with the word “cerebral.” Smith was a solid player for the team, but seemed forever stuck on special teams and behind the starters on the two-deep. However, despite a bad helmet-to-helmet penalty in Pittsburgh during the AFC Championship Game, Smith was brought back with a new long-term deal.
Head coach Rex Ryan said that Smith is now one of the Jets' starting safeties and his new, expanded role with the team does not include special teams.
“Eric’s always been a starting caliber safety,” Ryan said. “We’re going to get him off kickoff duty. You can write that down.”
Keeping Pace: Ryan reiterated yesterday afternoon that he is excited to see a healthy Calvin Pace back on the field for what he hopes is a full season with the Jets. Two years ago, when Ryan was just starting with the team, Pace was suspended the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Then, in the preseason, he suffered a foot injury that kept him out for the season’s opening weeks.
Pace had a down season but there was a reason for his decline in production, per Ryan:
“At the end of the year, his foot was 20% healed,” Ryan said. “He was out there gutting through it.”
Jets Go Greene: The running game last year was supposed to be lifted by then second-year running back Shonn Greene, whose stock rose during the playoff push of his rookie season. But Greene never seemed settled in 2010 and failed to find a rhythm with his hard-running style. The sophomore jinx won’t hold him back from an increased role with the offense in 2011.
“To start with, you’re going to get a heavy dose of Shonn Greene,” Ryan said.
Greene, who struggled with fumbles, picking up his blocking assignments and has just 16 catches in his two-year NFL career, took his lumps early on to get to the point where he can be a significant part of the offense.
“When you first get into this league you’re going to make mistakes, that’s just part the game. You’ve got to learn. The thing is, learning as quick as you can, and learning from those mistakes you make,” Greene said. “You can’t keep doing it, because you’re not going to be a pro very long around here, if you are making mistakes.”
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for updates from Jets camp all day, everyday.