This year’s free agency had some marquee signings like Darrelle Revis going to the New England Patriots, Demarcus Ware going to the Denver Broncos and Jairus Byrd going to the New Orleans Saints. While these were the biggest and most talked-about moves, would they also serve to be the most important for a contender’s playoff hopes? I would say no. This is because the Broncos, Saints and Patriots were already favorites to make the playoffs this year and though these moves will deepen their rosters, they will not directly increase their chances of making a run in the playoffs by that much; we already expect them to go far. So when evaluating which signings will have the most impact on a team’s playoff chances, we need to look at teams that are on the fringes of the postseason and see if their new players will help push them into a playoff slot.
That being said, I think the Jets’ signing of wide receiver Eric Decker will be the most useful in turning them into a playoff team. For the past couple of years, the Jets had a flat and unexciting offense filled with check-down passes on third and long. They had trouble moving the ball and generating points, which translated to mediocre seasons that ended at the regular season. The only reason they were able to manage 8-8 or 7-9 seasons was because their defense had some talent and played well. If the Jets could revamp their offense and give it some life, they could realistically turn themselves into a consistent playoff contender. That is seemingly what they are doing this off-season. In my last article, I wrote about Decker being the most overrated receiver in the free agent pool, and while I still believe his numbers will drop considerably with the Jets, that does not mean he cannot still be a factor and a game changer. He has already proven himself by playing well with Tim Tebow as his quarterback, which shows that he can be productive even with limited talent. With Decker on the team, the Jets gain a spark their offense has lacked for many years.
The Jets’ plans to add another receiver in this year’s NFL draft makes Decker even more valuable. If the Jets draft someone along the lines of Sammy Watkins or Marqise Lee, then Decker will lose attention from the defensive backs and have the ability to run one-on-one routes against the cornerbacks, his strong suit. While Decker’s productivity may decrease, he could be the perfect fit for the Jets by providing them with a steady consistent option opposite from a young explosive rookie that can make the big plays.
Contact Charlie Enberg at [email protected]