New York Jets: Analyzing the Patriots’ Week 7 Opponent

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Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker (87) catches a touchdown pass as Washington Redskins corner back Bashaud Breeland (26) defends during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Decker, Wide Receiver

The guy who your girlfriend knows as Jesse James’ husband turned in a solid effort last season, in spite of the Jets’ quarterback Geno Smith being, well, Geno Smith – 74 receptions, 115 targets, 962 yards, and five touchdowns. 

All of those are significant drops from his Denver production, where in 2013 he hauled in 87 receptions on 137 targets for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns, but bashing the guy for posting respectable stats while adjusting to playing against the NFL’s number one corners and not having a Demaryius Thomas-sized distraction running along the other side is just silly.

Unfortunately, now Eric Decker does have a DT-sized distraction on the field at the same time, and in Week 6 of the 2015 season, he’s only one touchdown away from matching his 2014 touchdown total.  Must be nice to go up against the best in the biz and then go back to where you excelled two years ago.

There’s not a lot else to say about Decker that we don’t already know.  He’s big at 6’3’’ and 214lbs, although not quite as big as Brandon Marshall’s 6’4’’, 230lbs. 

He’s catching 69% of the throws coming his way, which is better than last year OR any Denver season after his rookie year – and the only reason his rookie season in 2010 has to be thrown out there is because he caught 6 passes on 8 targets, which is TECHNICALLY better than what I just said.  If you’d like to argue that 2010 Eric Decker is superior to 2015 Eric Decker, knock yourself out.

Who Can Stop Him?

We’re stepping into uncharted territory here, because, through 5 games, New England hasn’t played anyone with a 1-2 punch at wide receiver like this. 

The Steelers didn’t have Martavis Bryant or Le’Veon Bell in Week 1.  The Bills piled on points in garbage time.  Dallas didn’t have Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten has been injured all year.  Jacksonville, well, you know.  Indianapolis has an arsenal at wideout, but nobody with the size and red-zone possession abilities these two do.

What becomes dicey is that with Decker and Marshall either going deep or crossing the middle of the field, and presumably either a third receiver or tight end running routes as well, New England has to pick their poison between locking down the passing game or loading up to prevent the run. 

If Logan Ryan gets put in man-to-man coverage on Eric Decker, that’ll be a four-inch height advantage for Decker in that matchup, and a five-inch height advantage for Brandon Marshall against Malcolm Butler.  Both are decent corners, but if Ryan Fitzpatrick can survive by throwing jump balls and high-pointing throws all afternoon, there’s little reason to think he won’t.

If New England sticks with nickel and dime defense packages with more defensive backs and two linebackers, more zone coverage could be a way to double-cover or swarm a guy if a ball comes their way, but if they gear up to stop the run with a base defense, and the DBs need to play man….even Han Solo can’t like those odds.

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