Our series grading each position group on the Jets in 2015 goes on. Today we address the wide receivers. As a refresher, here is the John B Grading System.
A - An enormous success by any definition
B - Happy with the production
C - Not terribly thrilled; not terribly upset
D - A disappointment
F - A total catastrophe
2015 in review
It is no secret that the NFL is a passing league. With that in mind, it is incredible that the Jets went from 2007 to 2015 without having a 1,000 yard receiver. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker were the first Jets receivers to eclipse that milestone since Jerricho Cotchery eight years earlier. They were the first Jets duo to post 1,000 yards in the same season since Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet in 1998.
The trade for Marshall ended up being one of the best value acquisitions in the NFL in 2015. The Jets traded only a fifth round pick for a 109 catch, 1,502 yard, 14 touchdown receiver. If you read this site for any substantial period of time before 2015, you probably lost count of the number of times somebody wrote something to the effect of, "The Jets lack a game-changing presence." They finally got that in Marshall. It wasn't just that Marshall drew extra attention to free other guys up. Defenses couldn't stop him even when they schemed to take him away.
After a somewhat disappointing first year with the Jets, Decker thrived in his new role of second banana. The decreased attention with Marshall around, a move to the slot taking advantage of his skills, and better quarterback play made the high end receiver in Denver reappear.
The Jets did not get a whole lot outside of Marshall and Decker from their receivers. Jeremy Kerley was made obsolete by Decker's move to the slot. Second round pick Devin Smith lost critical training camp reps when he suffered a serious injury. He then looked lost on an NFL field before suffering another serious injury. Chris Owusu couldn't stay healthy. Kenbrell Thompkins chipped in with contributions here and there, but he is 27 and has never even had a 500 yard season.
Marshall and Decker were so good that it didn't even matter. They might have been the best receiving one-two punch in the NFL. The Jets offense morphed into a productive passing unit during a late season five game winning streak as the chemistry between Ryan Fitzpatrick and his top two receivers flourished.
Looking to 2016
Marshall and Decker remain under contract on deals that are pretty affordable if not bargains. Both have a cap number under $10 million.
In an ideal world, the Jets would find a third receiver. This would be a speedster to put across from Marshall with Decker in the slot. In theory, this could be Devin Smith. Smith remains a work in progress, though, and his torn ACL might cost him offeseason reps he needs to improve.
Upgrading the third spot is not a top priority, but it could help the team.
I can't go all the way to A because of how little depth there was at wide receiver. The quality at the top was so high, however, that I can't go lower than this.