In one word the New York Jets wide receiving core last season was pathetic.
And I mean that with all due affection...
But no seriously, you can argue that the Jets overpaid for Eric Decker until you are green in the face, the fact of the matter is that the Jets needed to sign the top free agent available at the wide receiver position and they did exactly that by inking Eric Decker to a loaded contract for 5 years' worth $36.25 million. Oh and by the way, only the first two seasons are guaranteed, because that's the nature of the NFL, you can be cut.
So it seems as if the Jets have paid Decker with the intent on him eventually becoming their number one receiver, but is it rightfully so?
Well, let's take a closer at this now because you know, that's kind of the whole point of this.
Eric Decker is a 6'3 215 pound wide-out who slipped to the third round in the 2010 NFL Draft, the same draft where that same team, the Denver Broncos, decided to grab Tim Tebow in the first round.
Even with Tebow under center in 2011, Decker's second season, the latter received 44 passes for 612 yards and 8 touchdowns, in a season that included games where Tim Tebow completed two passes in a game. For good measure; Tebow threw for 1,729 yards and 12 touchdowns for 6 interceptions in the 14 games in which he did play in. By the way, Tebow also had a completion percentage of 46.5%.
Two passes in one NFL football game. In a passing league Decker still managed to put up the numbers in which he did.
However, when some guy named Peyton Manning arrived onto the scene--and I'm certain that you've heard of him--Decker's numbers skyrocketed up to 85 receptions for 1,064 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, followed by 87 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns in his contract season. However the following stats are much worth noting:
- Decker went from having literally the worst quarterback in the NFL, statistically speaking, to the best in one season.
- Decker also played beside Demaryius Thomas both seasons and Wes Welker & Julius Thomas in the 2nd season.
- It's also worth noting that Knowshon Moreno caught 60 passes in 2013 which helped open up the field.
- Thomas caught 94 and 92 passes respectively in 2012 & 2013. He also caught for over 1,400 yards and double digit touchdowns each season.
- Wes Welker caught 73 passes for 778 yards for 10 touchdowns in 2013 albeit missing 3 games due to injuries.
- Julius Thomas, in what was truly a breakout season caught 65 passes for 788 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
- Peyton Manning threw for 4,659 yards, and a touchdown-interception ratio of 37-11 in 2012, followed by a record breaking 5,477 yards this past season, and an unprecedented touchdown-interception ratio of 55-10. Manning also completed over 68% percent of his passes in both seasons individually.
So it's needless to say that Decker had plenty of help around him, and at no time was higher up than the 2nd receiver on the depth chart. ESPN's Skip Bayless even stated on First Take after the signing of Decker that he felt that Decker was normally the 4th option for Peyton Manning behind both Thomas's and Welker.
I'm not saying at all that Peyton Manning or the Denver offense made Eric Decker because I don't believe that to fully be the case, but I doubt that Decker would have the exact same type of success in New York as he had in Denver but for reasons in which likely differs from everyone else. This isn't a knock on Geno Smith, or Michael Vick, and in fact it may looked at as neither complimentary or bashful; more on this later.
However even though it was nearly 3 seasons ago, anyone want to guess who was Tim Tebow's leading receiver in 2011, the same 2011 in which Tebow helped lead the Broncos into post-season play?
No; not Rod Smith.
Not Shannon Sharpe.
And not even the close second Demaryius Thomas, who caught 32 passes for 551 yards and 4 touchdowns that season.
But yes, it was Eric Decker with the aforementioned 44 catches, 612 yards, and 8 touchdowns and he actually lead the Denver Broncos in each statistic category.
Does this lead me to believe that he is a number one receiver?
Maybe, but I don't think that we know for sure yet. Just because seemingly everyone in sports media says that he's a number two with inflated numbers due to the play around him and one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, doesn't mean we know that for sure. In the end, they may be right, but we'll have to wait and see.
Currently around Eric Decker the Jets now have the following weapons on their roster, four of which were here last season, with Chris Johnson being the lone addition to the backfield, but has far more than 5 career receptions unlike Chris Ivory. Here are the other Jet notables followed by their best season respectively:
- Jeremy Kerley, 56 receptions, 827 yards, 2 touchdowns (2012).
- David Nelson, 61 receptions, 658 yards, 5 touchdowns (2011).
- Stephen Hill, 24 receptions, 342 yards, 1 touchdown (2013).
- Jeff Cumberland, 29 receptions, 398 yards, 4 touchdowns (2013).
- Jacoby Ford, 25 receptions, 470 yards, 2 touchdowns (2010).
- Chris Johnson, 57 receptions, 418 yards, (2011).
With this being said, it's absolutely clear that Eric Decker will need to resemble his old Denver self on this team moving forward right?
Nope, no it does not.
You see, we have this thing on May 8th and it runs through May 10th, and it's called the NFL draft. The New York Jets have 12 picks in this whole draft thing. You follow? Good!
Now, you know how many teams have more picks than the Jets do? Don't worry I'll tell you; none.
The Jets are likely to use their first round draft pick on a wide receiver; either LSU's Odell Beckham, USC's Marqise Lee, or Oregon State's Brandin Cooks. They do need a receiver like any of these three that could be available by eighteen, because each one can route great routes and create an amount of space that Eric Decker may not be able to.Oregon State's Brandin Cooks is one of the favorites to be selected by the Jets with the 18th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft.
Can Eric Decker be a number one receiver in New York? I think so.
Will Eric Decker need to be a number one receiver in New York? I think not.
Will Eric Decker eventually be the number one receiver in New York? If he's playing opposite of Lee, Cooks, or Beckham, then probably not.
In fact I could argue that each of the three could be better than him by 2015.
So what I alluded to earlier leads me to saying that Eric Decker may ultimately just become the number two receiver for gang green once Brandin Cooks, Odell Beckham, or Marqise Lee develop into what they can become. It is my assumption that Geno Smith beats out Michael Vick for the starting quarterback position, and it is also my assumption that Geno Smith will prefer a speedster/route runner type of wide receiver like one of the aforementioned rookies as his go-to-guy, much like he had at West Virginia with Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey.