D.J. Moore is making the most of his opportunities when he gets his hands on the ball. The problem is he’s not getting many chances to do so.
Moore is widely considered as the best receiver for the Carolina Panthers and when he catches it, he shows why that’s the case. Moore ranks tied for third in the NFL in yards per catch at 18.3, and he’s on pace to blow by his career mark of four touchdowns.
But therein lies the problem. For all the good that he’s doing, Moore isn’t getting anywhere near the amount of opportunities to make big plays for a Carolina offense that has needed much help over the last month.
To put this fully into perspective, Moore has only caught two passes in each of his last two games, and just eight over his last three.
Again, that’s just eight receptions in the last 12 quarters of play for who is likely the best receiver on the team.
It’s something that hasn’t gotten lost on Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady.
“I’m not oblivious to it,” he said. “I know how explosive D.J. Moore is when the ball is in his hands.”
Last season, Moore averaged 9.0 targets, 5.8 catches and 78.33 yards per game. This year, he’s getting just 4.1 targets and 3.9 receptions. Even so, he’s managing to produce 71.1 yards a game.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said the team isn’t purposely throwing less to Moore and that it’s not like a running back where they can just hand it off constantly. He said there’s a progression and sometimes Moore gets it thrown his way and sometimes he doesn’t.
“I’d like to see him catch more balls,” Rhule said. “We have so many weapons that I don’t think we go into any one week and say, ‘Hey, let’s get this guy the ball, let’s get that guy the ball.’ I just think sometimes things swing that way and sometimes the defense is working to take somebody away, but D.J. is working hard and he’s working hard to get open, so I’d love to see him catch more balls.”
Trying to ensure Moore gets more opportunities could prove to be difficult this week as Tampa comes to town. The Buccaneers rank 11th in fewest yards allowed passing per game at just 235.
Even so, getting Moore plenty of chances is a priority.
“I have no doubt that DJ will breakout here soon and have a bunch of targets his way,” Rhule said. “He’s doing a good job, but the ball just hasn’t gone his way. I just think it’s one of those things that happen. And if it happens again this week, then there might be more to it.”