Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Updated: December 8, 8:29 AM ET
Tom Moore joins Jets full time
By Rich Cimini
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets consultant Tom Moore has a new title: "Mega-consultant," coach Rex Ryan joked.
Whatever Moore's title is, it's now a full-time position.
The longtime offensive guru, best known for his 13 years with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, will remain with the Jets on a day-to-day basis for the remainder of the season -- a move that could be perceived as an indictment of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Previously, Moore, 73, worked from his home in Hilton Head, S.C., scouting upcoming opponents and breaking down practice tape -- the arrangement he worked out with the Jets when he was hired last June to consult. But last week, he accepted Ryan's open invitation to join the team for the stretch run.
Moore's arrival, coupled with the Jets' inconsistent play on offense, will provide plenty of fodder for conspiracy theorists that believe Ryan isn't happy with Schottenheimer.
"That perception is completely false," Ryan said Wednesday as the Jets (7-5) began preparation for the Kansas City Chiefs (5-7). "I have great confidence in Brian. This is just a thing that helps. You get a guy with this kind of experience, how can it not help your football team?"
Moore, who traveled to Washington last weekend and wore a headset in the coaches' booth during the Jets' 34-19 win over the Redskins, emphasized that he has "a very, very limited role." He isn't calling plays, but he attends practice, participates in meetings and assists in game planning.
"I just make observations," said Moore, who spent training camp with the coaching staff before retiring to his home in Hilton Head. "Brian runs the show. Brian has done, and is doing, in my opinion, a tremendous job."
Schottenheimer, in his sixth season with the Jets, is a lightning rod for criticism. It intensified three weeks ago when the Jets dropped to 5-5 with a 17-13 loss in Denver, fueling questions about Schottenheimer and quarterback Mark Sanchez.
The offense responded with 62 points in two victories, its most prolific back-to-back performances of the season. Moore arrived in town after their 28-24 win over the Buffalo Bills and contributed to the game plan for last week's game against the Redskins.
Schottenheimer, signed through 2013, wasn't available Wednesday to comment on Moore's full-time gig. But last week Schottenheimer spoke glowingly of Moore, praising him for his knowledge and positive outlook.
How much Moore contributes will be determined by Schottenheimer, according to Ryan, who initially hired Moore as a consultant to help improve the team's woeful efficiency in the red zone. It worked: The Jets lead the league in that category.
"I feel better when I see him out there with us and he's actually working with us and not against us," Ryan said, adding, "I think it's great that our players get around him. Here's a guy that has coached Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and the receivers in Indy have been pretty decent. So, I think it's good."
Both the Jets and Moore were evasive on when it was determined he'd join the team on a full-time basis. Early in the season, the team said he'd make occasional visits. He visited in Week 7, when the Jets defeated the San Diego Chargers, but that was only for a few days.
When his consultant showed up last week, Ryan said he'd love for Moore to stick around, but he never spelled out that he wanted him for the remainder of the season. Ryan joked that Moore had to clear it with his wife.
"He's here, everything is okay at home and Tom was like, 'Why not? Let's go for it,'" Ryan said.
Moore, a self-described football lifer, said he was bored away from football. He said his Christmas shopping is done, and that he wanted to "be where the action is." And so here he is, joining a team that's ranked 26th in total offense.
The players seem to enjoy Moore's presence, especially tight end Dustin Keller, who has raved about Moore's teaching points. Sanchez, too, said he enjoys having Moore in meetings.
Asked to describe Moore's influence, Sanchez asked a reporter, "How much tape do you have left?"
"He's one of the best offensive minds -- football minds -- I've ever been around," Sanchez said. "He just has a different way of saying things sometimes. He has a way of keeping you calm. He reminds you of what you can do to get better, and he's a calm presence that I think is good for our offense."
Sanchez said Moore provides insight on everything from different types of pass coverages to tendencies of different defensive coordinators to how some cornerbacks tip plays by their stance.
And he's a fun guy in meetings, too. During breaks, Moore tells old stories, dating to his days as an assistant coach of the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 1970s.
"He'll tell a story about Terry Bradshaw or the Steelers or being around Peyton," Sanchez said. "They're some of the best stories you can ever hear."
Sanchez said Moore remains "in the shadows," available if they need him. But Moore also is casting a large shadow over Schottenheimer. Fair or not, that's the perception.
Moore tried to keep it light, even mocking Ryan's "mega-consultant" description of his role.
"What is mega?" Moore asked. "I'm from down South. That must be a city term."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.