After a brilliant 2015 season, Eric Decker’s 2016 campaign ended quickly. His absence is a huge reason the New York Jets are struggling.
It is no secret that the New York Jets have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season. Their current 3-7 record is a long stretch from the 10-wins a season ago.
This season, many critics are putting the blame on Jets veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for their disappointing year. However, it is not completely Fitzpatrick’s fault. Eric Decker’s absence has had a domino effect on the Jets receiving corps.
The turning point to the Jets season was when they found out that their No. 2 wide receiver would miss the remainder of the season due to surgeries on his hip and shoulder. Decker played the entirety of the Jets first two games which resulted in a 1-1 record and the Jets offense putting up at least 22 points each game.
Coming into this season, it was no secret that Decker was going to be a key piece to the Jets offense as he was one of the team’s top receivers in 2015. Decker put up an impressive first season with Fits at the helm. Hauling in 80 passes for 1,000 plus yards and 12 touchdowns made it obvious that chemistry was high.
It seemed that way in 2016, as well, when Decker was healthy. Throughout the first two games of the season with a healthy Eric Decker, Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 62 percent of his passes along with three touchdowns, (two of them to Decker) and one interception.
However, after Decker went down, the Jets offense and Fitzpatrick’s numbers dropped drastically. Fitz only has six touchdowns to go along with 13 interceptions in his last seven games. Also, the Jets offense has scored less than 20 points in five of their last eight games, resulting in a 2-6 record during that span.
Decker’s absence has also seemed to have a negative effect on Jets second year receiver Quincy Enunwa.
After having a successful rookie campaign last season, Enunwa got off to a very hot start as the Jets No. 3 receiver back in September while Decker was healthy. During those first two games where Decker was active, Enunwa caught 13 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. However, since Week 3, Enunwa has caught more than four passes in a game just once and at least 52 receiving yards in three of his last eight games.
With Decker out for the season, defenses started to guard Enunwa more tightly and with Brandon Marshall having a down season at the age of 32, Fitzpatrick has had a hard time, having him to rely more heavily on some rookies with lower expectations such as Robbie Anderson and Charone Peake.
Would Ryan Fitzpatrick’s and the Jets 2016 season have been completely different if Eric Decker stayed healthy this year? We would never know, but it certainly seems that his absence has had a huge negative effect on the Jets offense all-around.