Usually this post comes Monday morning, but let's do it tonight so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle tomorrow.
We end the season giving only our fourth game ball. It could easily and justly go to Geno Smith for his best performance of the season. I like to avoid giving it to the quarterback when I have the option, though. It's too obvious. Today I give my game ball to Eric Decker.
Decker's story is a tale as old as time in sports. The supporting guy on a winning team chases the dollar signs and a more prominent role on a lesser team. It frequently has a sad ending. Decker was a professional during the year, but here and there came reports of his frustration. Who could blame him? He left a Super Bowl team. He watched that team replace him with Emmanuel Sanders and Sanders become a star. Meanwhile he was stuck in a miserable situation. Making more money and being the go to guy sometimes isn't all it is cracked up to be.
Decker took some criticism, but I can't put much of the blame on the offensive problems for him. After today's monster finale, he ended his first season with the Jets with over 950 receiving yards in 15 games. He also had to play hurt for a stretch mainly because the Jets were so thin that a compromised Decker was better than anything else the team could throw out there. He might have been more productive had he been able to sit for a week and get healthy.
Decker's Week 17 was a masterpiece. He consistently outmuscled corners at the line. He shook them with double moves. He won contested balls in the air. He made runs after the catch. Today he had 10 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown.
This wasn't typical. The Jets put Decker into a situation where he had to be a game-changer. Decker is not that. He is part of the solution, however, for an offense that needs more quality pieces like him. Had the rest of the offense performed its job the way Eric Decker did in 2014, this year would not have been such a bitter disappointment for the Jets.
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