Thursday, March 13, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Eric Decker and the Jets
By Rich Cimini
A few takeaways on the signing of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker to a five-year, $36.25 million contract:
1. It's a start: The Jets had to do something to improve their 31st-ranked passing attack, and this was a good start. The $7 million-a-year average is a bit steep for what many scouts consider a No. 2-type wide receiver, but beggars have to pay extra -- especially when you don't have Peyton Manning at quarterback. Other moves will follow. The Jets will try to add another veteran receiver, perhaps Green Bay Packers free agent James Jones, and they still hope to add another tight end.
2. Life after Peyton and Demaryius: Decker had a good thing going in Denver. He had one of the greatest quarterbacks in history and a legit weapon on the other side of the field, Demaryius Thomas, allowing him to enjoy single coverage. Decker capitalized, as he was one of only six players to have at least 85 receptions in each of the past two seasons. On the Jets, he will be the No. 1 receiver -- and that changes everything. That will mean extra attention from opponents. Scouts say he has trouble against aggressive press coverage. He faced that against the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl and he disappeared.
3. Positives: At 6-foot-3, Decker is a big target who can do more than run vertical routes, a la Stephen Hill. For Denver, he lined up all over the formation, including the slot, but most of his production came from the wide left. He will help Geno Smith in the red zone. In fact, seven of his 11 touchdown receptions last season came inside the 20. He'd better brush up on his blocking, because he'll be doing more than he did in Denver. He ran 608 pass routes last season, second in the league only to Thomas. He won't come close to that in the Jets' balanced offense.
4. A message to Mike: Suddenly, the Jets are more attractive to free-agent quarterbacks. Did someone say Michael Vick?
5. Heeeere's Johnny: General manager John Idzik took a lot of grief for not signing any players on the first day of free agency -- a typical overreaction by Jets fans. On the second day, he rebounded with Decker and former Seattle Seahawks tackle Breno Giacomini, who will replace Austin Howard at right tackle. Giacomini is a notch below Howard, so you have to wonder about that swap, but Decker is better than anything they have on the roster. And don't think for a second they didn't push the Decker and Giacomini signings to combat the fallout from the Darrelle Revis/New England Patriots bombshell.
6. Decker on Geno: In an interview late Wednesday night with the Denver Post, Decker explained his thought process on picking the Jets and the unproven Smith.
"I did research. I didn't go into our meeting today blind," he said. "When you go from a Hall-of-Fame quarterback, no one else -- no matter who it is -- can be on the same level. Talking to the offensive coordinator Marty [Mornhinweg], who has had a good track record in San Francisco and Philadelphia, he really believes in this kid. When you look at the statistics, yeah, he got off to a slow start, but he was hurt early on and he finished the season strong. He improved all season long in a tough market. That's pretty impressive."