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Eric Decker: Ryan Fitzpatrick can make all the throws

Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall are a bit surprised by the criticisms thrown at quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

FLORHAM PARK: Jets receiver Eric Decker hasn't turned a deaf ear to everything that's have been said about his starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

He's a natural leader. Decker agrees

He's deadly accurate. Decker agrees

He's brilliant. Decker agrees

He lacks the arm strength to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.. 

Yeah, Decker says there's nothing further from the truth.

Speaking after practice on Thursday, Decker weighed in on the biggest criticism thrown Fitzpatrick's way, and in particular, how he feels about it. Having worked with Fitzpatrick each and every day in practice for the last several months, Decker has seen first hand what Fitzpatrick can do. 

And in his professional opinion, there's nothing any other quarterback can do that Fitzpatrick's can't himself.

"He can make every throw in the book," Decker said. "Whether the throw is 70 yards on a line or not, it doesn't matter. If you can make all the throws in the game, and Fitzpatrick, from what I've seen over the last six months of being with him, he can make every throw. 

"That's not a question, it's not a surprise to me. I got to witness it everyday in practice. He's been great for us."

With Fitzpatrick under center, the Jets offense scored 31 points in the team's season-opening victory over the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. The point total was higher than all but one game a season ago -- the Jets 37-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins Week 17. 

Against Cleveland, Fitzpatrick completed 15-of-24 passes for 179 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. One of those scores was a 15-yard strike to Decker. The other? A one-yard fade to Brandon Marshall.

Marshall, like Decker, offered high praise for Fitzpatrick. He agreed there's no issue with the quarterback's arm, but also said it helps when Fitzpatrick takes it to a "totally different speed" on game days. 

"It gets on you quick," Marshall said. "Fitz, I don't know where people get it that he doesn't have a talented arm or strong arm, he actually does. He reminds me of (Browns quarterback) Josh McCown. People say the same thing about him, but when we played with him, we were shocked. It's almost similar." 

There is the elephant in the room though of just how good the Jets offense can be with Fitzpatrick under center. While the Jets 31 points against Cleveland were impressive, the high number may have been aided by the fact the Browns aren't one of the NFL's elite-level teams. 

But Decker says that doesn't matter. Those in the locker room know what the Jets are capable of. 

And that ceiling, with Fitzpatrick at quarterback, is awfully high. 

"We know what our potential is and what we're capable of," Decker said. "You can never really judge anyone off of one week of performance. We hope to be consistent throughout the entire season. 

"But we have the ability to pass, run and to be threatening every game. Whether we do that or not is up to us players to execute."

 

Connor Hughes is the New York Jets beat writer for The Journal Inquirer and Scout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes), or via email (connor_j_hughes@yahoo.com)


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