Over the last three weeks, the Arizona Cardinals have started to get second-year wide receiver Rondale Moore some extra looks downfield. The result has been one of the best stretches of his career.
For virtually the entirety of Moore’s rookie season, Cardinals head coach and offensive play-caller Kliff Kingsbury used him almost exclusively as a gadget receiver. With such high upside in generating yards after the catch, most of Moore’s catches were manufactured touches at or near the line of scrimmage. Screens, hitches, and short “in” routes over the middle made up the bulk of his catches. As a result, his average depth of target by the end of his first season as a pro was under a yard and a half. His yards before catch total for the entire season was -3 yards.
To Moore’s credit, he generated a lot of production in that role. That yards-after-catch ability showed up in spades all of his rookie season as he averaged 8.1 yards after the catch, tied for 15th in the NFL. The 438 total yards after the catch were a top-20 mark in the league despite Moore finishing outside the top-100 in receiving yards in 2021 and his missing the final three games of the season with an ankle injury.
At season’s end, it still seemed like Moore hadn’t reached his full potential as a contributor to the offense with his role and usage being so limited. If only Kingsbury had read Moore’s prospect profile from The Draft Network, in which Kyle Crabbs wrote, “Don’t pigeonhole him into being someone who has to get his touches manufactured behind the line of scrimmage,” Moore could have gotten more production as a rookie.
For a lot of his second season, but especially in recent weeks, Moore’s usage has started to change. His average depth of target this season has inflated from 1.4 yards in 2021 to 5.5 in 2022. Moore is still getting short catches near the line of scrimmage but also making plays on deeper routes downfield. His Week 10 performance against the Rams showed some of what Moore brings when he gets chances downfield.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) November 14, 2022
That hasn’t stopped Moore from generating plenty of yards after the ball is in his hands, too. His 6.9 yards after the catch per reception ranks 30th in the NFL and the 281 total such yards put him 16th, tied with Amon-Ra St. Brown and ahead of A.J. Brown and Ja’Marr Chase. And that’s after having missed the first three games of the season. The Cardinals can get the ball in his hands further past the line of scrimmage and let him create; all of Moore’s touches don’t need to be manufactured to let him create chunk yardage.
Rondale Moore refuses to go down!
— NFL (@NFL) October 30, 2022
After the departure of Christian Kirk in free agency and with newcomer Marquise Brown’s recent injury, Arizona has done a good job finding ways to get more creative with their usage of Moore in the offense. As they’ve done that, Moore is starting to show off just how useful he can be as a contributor in the passing game both around the line of scrimmage and deeper downfield. He’s always a yards-after-catch threat and more than just a gadget receiver, and as the Cardinals use him in more ways, the ceiling for his production and contributions to their offense will keep rising.
- Dec 09, 2022
- Dec 09, 2022