Florham Park, N.J. - The Jets just can't catch a break this season, as news broke today that New York has placed star wide receiver Eric Decker on injured reserve. Decker suffered a partially torn rotator cuff to his right shoulder during the Buffalo game. He re-aggravated it against Kansas City and hasn't practiced since. The team and fans hoped for this day not to come, but alas, it is here. So... what now?
"You can't replace him with one guy," said quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. "It's going to be a collective effort."
For starters, the Jets claimed Jeremy Butler off of waivers. Undrafted in 2014, he was cut from the Ravens and then signed by the Buccaneers, but was later released this year. After spending his rookie year on the IR, Butler recorded 31 catches for 363 yards in eight games last season for Baltimore. This solves the depth issue.
Good news at practice: Jalin Marshall was in pads and practicing. On the season, he has five catches for 64 yards in three games played. For kickoffs, he is averaging 25.7 yards per return. Jalin has been hurt the last two games with a shoulder injury, but when he was healthy, he was the fourth receiver on the roster that brought big play ability.
The Jets also have rookie receivers Robby Anderson and Charone Peake. Both these guys are primed for a breakout game. The question is: when? Anderson showed in the preseason what he's got: 13 catches, 264 yards, and three touchdowns. He led all receivers in the preseason in catches. On the regular season, Anderson has five catches for 56 yards, but also three drops against Seattle. Peake broke out early in the first two games of the preseason: eight catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. However in the next two games, Peake only had two catches for 26 yards. Against Seattle this year, he had three catches for 30 yards and returned a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown. Against Pittsburgh, he only had one catch for six yards. With Decker out, it's time for one of these two to step up.
"We got a talented group of young guys that just need to step up and they've been doing a good job," said Fitzpatrick.
What also helps is the emergence of the tight end position against the Steelers. Austin Seferian-Jenkins recorded two catches for 17 yards while Brandon Bostick recorded a catch for nine yards. The stats don't pop off the page, but this is big considering a tight end hadn't made a catch for the Jets all season. Seferian-Jenkins has been slowly making his way onto the field for New York, look for him to get more targets.
Don't forget that the Jets have two great receiving backs in Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. The pair are third and fourth on the team in receptions, combining for 34 catches and 234 yards. Both backs are able to bail their quarterback out of sticky situations. What also helps is both backs run the ball well, so defenses never know whether they'll run it or take off out of the backfield for a pass.
So with Decker out, there's a new duo in town with Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa. Brandon and Enunwa rank ninth in receptions among receiving duos in the NFL with 51 catches. Enunwa ranks ninth among AFC receivers in that category with 27 grabs, also leading his team. Of his 27 catches, 18 have been for first downs. Marshall this season has 24 catches for 363 yards (leads team) and two touchdowns. Enunwa has also tallied 294 yards (second behind Marshall) and one touchdown back in Week One. As the number two receiver this season, Enunwa has 10 catches and 111 yards. Both receivers have big frames and both receivers can do damage, as they've both shown already this season.
"As long as everyone is doing their job, we should be alright," said Enunwa.