FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Eric Decker admitted some more offensive help could have made all the difference for him last year.
When he signed his free-agent deal with the Jets in March 2014, he believed their Geno Smith-led offense had enough talent to be successful. But the recent addition of a big, physical receiver like Brandon Marshall has completely changed the way they can approach game-planning this season, Decker said. And that's why he's confident his job will be much easier on game day.
"Coach always tries to put you in the best position. But on any team, to have more weapons, guys that can make plays, it does become easier," Decker told Newsday during a one-on-one interview Tuesday. "He's one of those guys that has proven it for so long. When you hear the name 'Brandon Marshall,' I mean, he's one of the best. I would say that he definitely makes me a better receiver already because I get to be the 1-2 punch with him.
" . . . Obviously, would I say yes I would have liked to have that kind of move last year? Oh, 100 percent. It would have made the transition that much easier," said Decker, who caught 74 passes for 962 yards and five touchdowns while nursing a hamstring injury for much of the season. "But bottom line, I knew what was going on and believed in what we had here."
After starring in Denver's high-octane offense with Peyton Manning for two seasons, Decker signed a five-year, $36.25 million deal to join the Jets, a team that hadn't had a winning record in three seasons. But he knew his arrival meant the Jets wouldn't target a receiver in the first round of the 2014 draft -- despite the rookie class being littered with explosive, game-changing talent. (The Jets did, however, select tight end rookie Jace Amaro in the second round.)
"I guess I knew coming in last year that they weren't going to draft a receiver in the first round," said Decker, who caught 222 passes for 3,070 yards and 38 touchdowns during his four years in Denver. "If someone fell to whatever pick we were [No. 18], they were going to consider it, but I just knew how things were kind of laid out that it wasn't going to be that way.
"I was really confident in the room that we had, and when I look back, we just made a lot of little mistakes that I think are correctable mistakes. So even though we didn't make the big moves that we did last year and spend money, I believed in the process I was a part of last year, thinking that there would be some pieces added on. And sometimes free agency doesn't work out that way, sometimes guys want to go to different teams."
Former Jets general manager John Idzik traded for controversial receiver Percy Harvin on Oct. 6, but it was too little too late. At the time the Jets were in a 1-6 slump, en route to a 4-12 finish. (The Jets cut Harvin on March 10, saving $10.5 million in salary cap space.)
"This year, obviously, it was huge getting [cornerbacks Darrelle] Revis and [Antonio] Cromartie and getting Brandon Marshall," Decker said.
But while he's excited about their defensive upgrades and the addition of Marshall, Decker tried to temper expectations about the new-and-improved Jets and their offense.
"I think it's kind of a quiet confidence," he said. "I'm old enough to know that we have the pieces, but in this league it doesn't matter who you are. You've got to put it on the field and you've got to perform. Period.
"On paper, I think we look great. But on paper is a lot different than on Sunday."