Jet Impact: Eric Decker

New York Jets prized free agent signing Eric Decker is embracing his chance to finally be a No. 1 receiving target. With the weight of New York City on his shoulders, can the former Bronco help jump start a left-for-dead Jets' passing attack?

What are the exact qualifications of a true No. 1 receiver? Does he have to be as dynamic as Calvin Johnson, as quick as Wes Welker, and as refined as Larry Fitzgerald? Or, can a number one receiver showcase his worthiness of this title in other ways? From a fans perspective, and for Eric Decker, it is impossible to expect the physical characteristics of these aforementioned receivers to suddenly materialize in Decker simply because he was anointed top receiving target by the Jets. However, that does not mean he cannot and will not exude similar characteristics which are just as paramount to success in the NFL.

Leadership, professionalism and toughness are each intangibles Decker possesses and are qualities Jets fans should look for when evaluating his first season with Gang Green. As Decker has stated on multiple occasions, his time spent with the Denver Broncos learning under the tutelage of Peyton Manning, laid the blueprints for these characteristics to be further instilled in him. The result was a quiet, unsung playmaker, with a continuous knack for making winning plays. Making the big play on third down, always catching the ball, and his willingness to sacrifice his body for the team on countless routes over the middle was how his acquired leadership and toughness was displayed weekly.

While his mental prowess is key to his success, his physical skills are nothing to scoff at. He quietly put together a superb season with Denver, catching 87 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. A player largely overshadowed by Peyton Manning, Wes Welker and Demarius Thomas, Decker found his niche and took full advantage.

This was not done via a particularly unique skill set, but rather a very simplistic skill: always being open. This underappreciated aspect to Decker's game isn't based on any breakaway speed, but rather, his intelligence to read defenses and react to any coverage in any situation.

Ultimately, when viewing a receiver's value, it is not how many catches they make, but when they make them. A receiver who makes a spectacular catch to start a drive but drops a manageable third down catch struggles to find a home in the NFL. However, for Decker, one of his greatest qualities is his reliability. Decker isn't the perfect player, but he may just be the perfect leader for a team starving and striving for legitimacy. He is like the postman, except he delivers on Sunday.


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