Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Heath Farwell (55) in the third quarter in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Decker and the Overuse of the Term “Number One Receiver”


Eric Decker was finally the attention-grabbing signing that fans were looking for. Heck, he was the best wide receiver on the open market at the time, so kudos to John Idzik and company. Most of the fan base was pretty excited about bringing Eric Decker into the fold.

But, there was still a faction of the world that was knocking the signing of Eric Decker. Why? The word is that Eric Decker is “not a number one” wide receiver. The Jets “needed” a number one wide receiver, but signed a “number two receiver”.

What is a number one receiver? What exactly does that mean? Too often, players are put into “categories” or “labels”, limiting where teams end up using the particular player. Forget about number one vs number two, this and that. Eric Decker is a talented wide receiver, the best on the Jets roster by far. That’s all that matters.

Is a number one receiver a guy that can get to the end zone with regularity? Eric Decker has posted 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons, and 32 over the past three, which is an average of almost 11 touchdowns per season. That’s a pretty dominant amount in my estimation.

How about being a guy that can catch a lot of passes? Maybe THAT is what makes a number one guy. Eric Decker has caught 172 passes over the past two seasons. The coveted “number one receiver” named Desean Jackson only caught 127 passes over the same time frame, and scored 11 touchdowns.

Who is the number one receiver now? Just saying…….

How about being able to dominate a game? A number one wide receiver can dominate a game, right? Eric Decker posted 5-100 yard games in 2013, just the same as Desean Jackson. Both players also posted 2-100 yard performances in 2012.

So how big is the disparity between “number one” and “number two” now?

The only area that Eric Decker is at a distinct disadvantage is in the category of “drop rate”. Per Pro Football Focus, Eric Decker’s drop rate last season was just over eight percent, while Desean Jackson’s drop rate was just over five percent. But, if we look at, and compare with, the previous season, the disadvantage is not so large. Over the last two years, Decker went from a 12% drop rate to 8%, while Desean Jackson went from 2% to 5%. So, they come close together because one rate got worse, while one got better.

And by the way, the comparison is true on one sense. Eric Decker isn’t a number one receiver for one reason. He lacks the typical “diva” attitude that can be prevalent in a number one wide receiver.

So, for all of the people who said the Jets didn’t sign a number one receiver, here is what I say: the Jets signed a scoring machine, a player that can dominate a game, who has a good attitude, and has an improving set of hands.

If that’s a number “two” wide receiver, I guess I will take a number two. I’ll take him now, every day, and twice on Sundays.

Tags: Eric Decker New York Jets

  • trinity

    Hmm. It’s pretty simple actually. The difference between a #1 reciever and a #2 reciever is talent. Just simply that. A number one reciever is the one that defenses lose the most sleep over. He is your best reciever option and an anchor for the quarterback. But no reciever, not even the mighty Megatron can do it on his own, so teams need the #2 reciever. This is a guy who, while not as talented as a #1 reciever, is reliable, sure-handed, stable, and good enough to keep the defense honest so your #1 won’t be pressed as much. As a Denver fan, i know Eric is really talented. I also know that a good reason for those great numbers was because he didn’t have as much pressure. This is because he was playing opposite a #1 reciever in demaryius Thomas. So the reason for the doubt is just simply that people don’t know how Erik will cope when he has to deal with the other team’s best corners, because that is something he’s never had to deal with as a number 2. You’re right, he is the best reciever on the squad. But whether that will turn out to be for better or worse is up in the air because of his history. Time will tell.

    • Alan Schechter

      Fair Trinity. You make excellent points, about everyone’s nerves being on the unknown with Eric. I just think that players are talked about too much with these “labels”, you know?

  • Paul Newbold

    I’m not even going to try to define a #1 receiver. I’ll just address the concerns I’ve read here and elsewhere from Jet fans. Eric Decker over the past two seasons has been a very productive receiver for Denver. He’s young, has proven he can get open, and score touch downs. On the surface it looks like a very, very good signing. After a bit of digging and some analysis, the signing looses a bit of it shine. The knock on Decker as I understand it, is he’s never had to deal with a team’s top corner and that his numbers are inflated the last two years with the arrival of Peyton Manning. It is a legitimate concern from a fan’s perspective. He caught 24 TD’s and totaled 172 catches in those two years with Manning. His prior two years? 9 TD’s and 80 catches! Cause for concern…maybe. The fact remains the Jets have done little to add talent to the receiving corp to aid Decker for the coming year. As I see it, its not really about whether he’s a number 1 or number 2 receiver, but rather can he productive with less talented receivers surrounding him? Yes, the Jets will bring in a WR or two via the draft, but will that be enough to draw attention from Decker? Time will tell. Was it a good signing for the Jets? Absolutely! Should they have added more WR talent before the draft? I think they should have. Time will tell of course.

    • Alan Schechter

      All fair points Paul. It’s interesting, I take his years before Peyton a little bit differently, especially the Tebow year. I take it as a positive how well he did with Tim Tebow. Time will tell, as always.

      Thanks for always reading and sharing your well thought out opinions.

  • Edward Kirby

    The #1 receiver is the one that, when playing teams that employ the best cornerback in the business, usually winds up on Revis Island.