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


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 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.