KANSAS CITY — Brandon Marshall played through an injury on Sunday, but not well enough, by his own assessment.
Eric Decker played, too, but barely was a part of the offense, by any objective assessment.
Net result: The Jets’ veteran receiving duo combined for a mere four receptions for 58 yards in a 24-3 loss to the Chiefs that Marshall called “really bad,” “not good” and “embarrassing.”
Marshall’s availability had been uncertain all week after his left knee twisted awkwardly on Sept. 15 against the Bills.
But he said after Sunday’s loss, “I’m always thinking I can play. Like I said at the beginning of the week: Don’t rule me out until Sunday.”
So how did he feel physically? “I was all right,” he said, less than convincingly.
Said coach Todd Bowles, “He was healthy enough to play. He came out there and played hard and ran hard and we didn’t make any plays.”
The Chiefs had something to do with Marshall being limited to three catches for 27 yards, focusing extra defensive attention on him to encourage the ball going elsewhere.
But somehow they also managed to hold Decker without a catch until the fourth quarter. Decker now has only nine receptions in three games. What gives?
“It’s not a concern,” Bowles said. “It’s the way they’re defending him. We have to take what they give us. We just have to find different ways to get him open.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick, who completed two more passes to the Chiefs than he did to Marshall and Decker combined, said the Jets must get Decker more involved.
“He needs to be a big part of our offense, just with his skill set and how good of a player he is,” Fitzpatrick said. “The thing about Eric is I could sense his frustration, but he’s also a guy who all he wants to do is go out there and win.
“That’s something as a quarterback and as a friend, too, that I really appreciate about him. He’s out there for the right reasons.”
Decker confirmed that he was frustrated, but said it had more to do with the score than his lack of action.
“When you’re losing and you’re down you should be frustrated, if you care,” he said. “It’s not the fact I wasn’t getting the ball. It was the fact we weren’t executing.”
What about those nine measly receptions for the year? “Honestly, I just want to find a way to win,” Decker said. “Whatever that formula is, if it’s catching more balls, sure.”
At least Decker has two touchdown receptions this season. Marshall has none.
Fitzpatrick said he tried to force some throws to Marshall against the Chiefs even when he was closely guarded. Marshall said it is his job to make tough catches in such situations.
“I look at myself first; I have to make more plays,” he said. “I have to figure out a way to get open, get separation and I have to come down with the hard catch. That’s not happening right now. Until those things change we’re going to get the same results.”