Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) celebrates with wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15), wide receiver Eric Decker (87), and wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets enjoyed incredible production out of their wide receiver corps during the regular season. It’s time to hand out grades for their contributions of 2015.
I will be giving out grades for the wide receiver corps of the Jets. Saying this first, what a difference a few years make. In 2012, the leading receiver was Jeremy Kerley with 56 receptions and 827 yards and was second in touchdowns with two. Jeff Cumberland was second in receiving with 29 catches and 359 yards. He led the receiving corps in scores with three. In total, the Jets recorded as a team, 272 receptions for 3,178 yards and just 14 touchdowns.
In 2013, it wasn’t much better. Kerley again led the Jets with 43 receptions and yards at 532, while Cumberland was first in touchdowns with four. They finished with fewer receptions (266) and touchdowns (13), but had more yards in the air (3270).
When the 2014 season came around, they finally landed a legitimate receiver in Eric Decker, but it was far from stabilizing this weak group of pass catchers. Decker was a vast improvement. His 74 receptions were only off 25 catches of Kerley’s two season total. He also finished with 962 yards and five touchdowns, leading the team in all categories.
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Kerley was a distant second with 38-409-1 while Cumberland finished second in touchdowns with three.
The team totals looked better than the previous two seasons as they had a higher rate of receptions (287) and touchdowns (16). Including their second best season in yards (3,206) of the last three seasons.
Enter the 2015 season and Brandon Marshall. With Marshall on the team, it changed the whole dynamic on offense for the Jets. Marshall led the team in receptions (109), yards (1502) and touchdowns (14). Decker being a moderate number one and top number two receiver, finished with 80-1,027-12. The Jets as a team finished with 362 receptions for 4,170 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Looking at this season, we can see that the wide receivers were effective in revamping the three terrible years of statistical mediocrity. We know this because the Jets finished no less than 15th in each of the major receiving categories, which is a 15-team jump from the previous seasons. Let’s take a look at several reasons why.
For instance, Ryan Fitzpatrick became the starter after Geno Smith broke his jaw and never looked back. The addition of Marshall helped make the group more rounded and significantly better, and don’t forget new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who worked with Fitzpatrick in Buffalo, was the glue to it all. This combination made the Jets finally an NFL relevant team statistically.
Here is a quick look at the wide receiver core over the last four seasons. Each category is where they finished in the season among all NFL teams and the last category is their average overall among all categories.
Now for the grades.
Next: Brandon Marshall
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) celebrates his touchdown catch against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Marshall had a terrific season as he caught over 100 passes and had over 1,500 yards with 14 touchdowns. He also made the Pro-Bowl 2015. His receptions were second most in his career as was his yards gained and he broke his personal best for touchdowns.
This season, he was tied for fifth in receptions, fourth in yards and first in touchdowns. He is the only wide receiver to be in the top five in receptions, yards and touchdowns.
Next: Eric Decker
Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker (87) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Decker increased his game as well with Marshall on board. In his second season, he improved his reception totals by six, his yards by 65 and had seven more touchdowns on the year.
It would have almost been impossible for Decker to make the Pro Bowl, but his numbers were top of the second tier receivers in this league. 18th in receptions, 25th in yards sixth in touchdowns.
Next: Quincy Enunwa
Dec 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) avoids a tackle attempt by New England Patriots cornerback Justin Coleman (22) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Patriots 26-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
In 2014, Quincy Enunwa became the Jets’ sixth-round draft choice when they selected him with the 209th overall pick. He played in just one game his rookie season and did not register any statistics. In 2015, Enunwa played in 12 games because of his arrest for domestic violence. Per ESPN writer Rich Cimini, Enunwa received a four-game suspension, instead of the possible six, because he demonstrated cooperation and remorse.
For Enunwa to still be with the Jets, he must be showing them something. His biggest game was against the Philadelphia Eagles as he was targeted ten times and caught five receptions 50 yards. Enunwa finished the season with 22 receptions for 315-yards and no touchdowns. The Jets want him to grow as a wide receiver. He has the time and can learn from Marshall and Decker.
Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Chris Owusu (17) during warm-ups before the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The backups and reserves were mostly made up of castoffs and reoccurring teammates. Players such as Kenbrell Thompkins, Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland, Kellen Davis, Chris Owusu and rookie Devin Smith. In sum, this group hauled in 94 passes for 922 yards and four touchdowns.
Overall, the Jets’ receiving corps became almost like a shiny new toy, after having the dust cleaned from it and restored back to factory conditions. It does have some dings and dents due to lack of care, but it doesn’t mean those can’t get fixed. They may be on the lookout for a slot receiver.
Devin Smith will be entering his second season, but he only played ten games this year and Kerley most likely won’t be with the team. It will be interesting to see what they try to do in the off-season, but this is still a smash-mouth running team with more flexibility.