Commentary

Moore to give Jets' offense a boost

Gang Green is hoping the 72-year-old's passion will help improve the team's production

Updated: August 10, 2011, 9:07 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Tom Moore is old-school. No, wait, change that: He helped build the school.

This is Moore's 36th training camp, which means he got started in pro coaching when New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was 1.

Moore, 72, has been around the game so long that he played one-platoon football at Iowa in the 1950s and served as an assistant coach on Pittsburgh's legendary "Steel Curtain" teams in the 1970s.

The man has spent a half-century coaching offense (think about that for a second), and now he works for the Jets, patrolling the practice field every day with his calf-high athletic socks, tip-of-the-nose glasses and encyclopedic knowledge of X's and O's.

Around the Jets, Moore is the Godfather of O.

Moore, hired as a consultant after a successful, 13-year run with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, will work from his home in Hilton Head, S.C., once the regular season begins. But now he's with the team in training camp, attending meetings, observing practices and assisting Schottenheimer and his staff.

"That fired me up because I want to stay involved in football," Moore said of the Jets' job offer. "Someone once told me a long time ago, 'More people are rushed out than wear out.' I don't want to be rushed out."

The Jets decided to hire Moore in the spring, when he was invited by Rex Ryan to be a guest lecturer for the Jets' coaches during the lockout. Initially, they wanted to pick his brain on red zone offense (the Jets finished 28th last season), but they realized he could be a valuable resource beyond a couple of chalk talk sessions.

Naturally, it fueled speculation that Ryan isn't happy with Schottenheimer, that he wanted someone to look over his coordinator's shoulder. Schottenheimer said he has no problem with the arrangement, adding that he and Ryan discussed it beforehand. A "no-brainer," he called the hiring of Moore.

"He's definitely just a huge, huge bonus for me," Schottenheimer said. "Just to have guys like Tom to bounce ideas off of, to kind of brainstorm with, has been great. ... It's going to be a great relationship, he's a great sounding board."

During the season, Moore will be an advance scout of sorts, breaking down opponents two weeks ahead of the game and submitting his ideas and suggestions to Schottenheimer.

Sorry, conspiracy theorists, he's not going to be hiding in the coaches' box and calling plays.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireTom Moore was the mastermind behind Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts' offense since 1998.

In training camp, Moore is in the middle of everything, occasionally offering one-on-one instruction. On Monday, he worked with Mark Sanchez in the red zone, watching closely as Sanchez practiced his footwork on play-action passes. He struggled inside the 20 last season, completing only 48 percent of his attempts.

"He's special," Moore said of the third-year quarterback. "The sky's the limit for him." Moore broke into the league when Joe Namath still was playing, which should tell you something about the depth of his résumé. He won two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers as the position coach for Hall of Fame receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.

He has gone from Swann and Stallworth to Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne to Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress. But perhaps the player on the team most excited by Moore's arrival is tight end Dustin Keller.

Keller grew up in Indiana and attended Purdue, allowing him to closely follow the Colts' offense -- specifically, the way in which they deployed Dallas Clark, their prolific tight end.

Keller studied Clark on tape, marveling at how the Colts moved him around the formation to create mismatches.

"Obviously, he's the mastermind behind all that," Keller said of Moore, sounding almost giddy from Moore's presence.

Moore has spent time with Keller at practice, teaching him ways to get open. For instance: On "hot" routes, he told Keller to keep his eyes to the inside while "feeling" the defender to the outside. Keller will be a key for the Jets. With so much upheaval at wide receiver, Sanchez may have to lean on his tight end more than usual.

Because of the Jets-Colts rivalry, heightened by the last two postseason meetings, Keller assumed there was no way the Jets would be able to lure Moore. But strange things happen in the musical-chairs world of the NFL. Moore apparently felt pushed out by the Colts and wasn't ready to retire.

Moore already has studied every Jets game from last season, but he declined to comment on specific areas that need improvement. He prefers to look forward, savoring a new challenge.

"This means everything," he said of coaching. "I've lived a dream. You take a kid's game and make a living out of it."

More than a living -- a life.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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