As the New York Jets prepare for the upcoming regular season, their wide receiving corps will be a strength again, no matter who is under center.
Believe it or not, on the offensive side of the ball in 2015, the New York Jets made franchise history. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and running back Chris Ivory did their fair share in contributing to the unforgettable year, although the receiving corps is the unit who led the pack. Specifically Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.
In the 2014 offseason, former general manager John Idzik essentially made one move and that move was signing Decker to a five-year deal. His first season in the ‘Big Apple’ was pretty up and down because he wasn’t healthy for all 16 contests, but this past campaign was one for him to remember. He totaled 80 receptions for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns in the 15 games he played. If he suited up for the Week 3 match-up vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, Gang Green may have came away with a win. Of course, one more win was all they needed to make the postseason.
Decker had only one year (2013) in which he accomplished more than he did in 2016. In that season, he had quarterback Peyton Manning throwing him the ball with All-Pro receivers Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker alongside him. Since he nearly posted the same stat line in a Fitzpatrick-led offense, you’d have to think that he’s in the prime of his career. It’s safe to say that Marshall had a superb year as well.
No. 15 racked up 109 catches for 1,502 yards and a career-high 14 touchdowns. Those numbers are now atop several categories in the Jets’ all-time receiving leaderboards. His 109 receptions shattered Al Toon‘s 93 in 1988, his 173 targets eclipsed Rob Moore‘s 159 in 1994, his 1,502 yards passed Don Maynard‘s 1,434 in 1967 and he’s now tied with Maynard and Art Powell for the single season touchdown record of 14.
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There truly isn’t much more to say about Marshall.
He’s the most talented wideout New York has ever had and without him the offense goes nowhere.
Despite what the man can do, the rest of the receivers cannot slack off and expect him to carry everyone on his back for the second-straight season.
He’s now 32-years-old and it’s highly unlikely he logs back to back 16-game years. If he gets injured, the next guy up has to be ready.
Devin Smith is coming off of an ACL tear, although he’ll step in as the No. 3 receiver when the time comes. Kenbrell Thompkins is no lock to make the roster simply because the Jets can save approximately $1M by cutting him. Quincy Enunwa has value in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s system, but you might as well call him a tight end due to how he’s used. He’s basically a designated blocker, so you’ll rarely see him catch a pass.
There’s an obvious lack of production outside of Marshall and Decker, however there’s plenty of depth. Behind Smith, Thompkins and Enunwa, you have a number of receivers with upside and others who seem to be nothing more than a camp body. Charone Peake was a steal in the seventh-round of the 2016 NFL Draft as a prospect coming in with quite a few third-round grades. Jalin Marshall is another receiver who can turn on the afterburners and really take the top off the defense.
On the other hand, Kyle Williams, Jeremy Ross, Titus Davis and Chandler Worthy are clear long shots to make the final 53 unless general manager Mike Maccagnan chooses to dump Thompkins. The money may come in handy if something gets done with Fitzpatrick, but until then, Gang Green can use the former New England Patriot to their advantage if he’s used properly. He came up huge in Week 15 and he almost hauled in what would have been the catch of the season on the final drive in Week 17.
Overall, the Jets should feel secure with their receiving corps barring injuries. If they can scrap some contribution out of their slot receivers, Gailey’s group will be extremely fun to watch yet again.