Eric Decker expects the Jets to pick up where they left off in 2015 — aiming for a spot in the playoffs with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback.
“If you don’t have the goal to be a championship team, then we’re starting off on the wrong foot. I believe that we’re capable of doing it. I think we’re very close,” the Jets receiver said on Wednesday, before being honored for his public service at the Jefferson Awards Foundation.
“If we can jell like that and be consistent and add a couple pieces that maybe we are missing. Again, it’s all about if you stay healthy, if you make a run at the right time. That’s be bottom line. So I think we can be a championship-caliber team.”
But that playoff run is contingent upon consistency.
The Jets have a host of roster issues to address, but re-signing the 33-year-old quarterback is their top priority. He helped guide them to a 10-6 record — their first winning season since 2010 — and also threw a franchise-record 31 touchdowns.
“I assume that we’re going to get Fitzpatrick back,” Decker said of his soon-to-be free agent. “I don’t know, to be honest. I’ve been texting him, but I don’t think he even knows.
“Maybe he does,” he added with a laugh. “He’s just not telling any of us.”
With free agency set to start next week, the Jets are eager to get Fitzpatrick back in the fold. But after earning a base salary of $3.25 million last season, the veteran signal-caller is looking to be well paid.
Both sides have said they want to be reunited in 2016, and that’s just what Decker is hoping.
“Talking to Brandon, we all love Fitz and we expect him to be back and just build off of what we did last year,” Decker said.
With Fitzpatrick at the helm last season, Decker and Marshall scored a franchise-record 21 combined touchdowns. It was the most of any receiver tandem in the NFL too.
And in Year 2, they plan to be even more productive if Fitzpatrick is back.
“We’ve kind of got that foundation, so we can build off that.”
Getting over last year’s disappointing finish — a 22-17 loss to Rex Ryan’s Bills in Week 17, which knocked them out of playoff contention — was difficult, Decker admitted.
“I think I’m still bitter, to be honest,” he said, smiling. “It was hard watching the Super Bowl for a while. And then toward the end I just started to root for Peyton (Manning) and be happy for some of my friends that are still out there. it was just a hard way to go out. And to think about how well we’re kind of jelling and coming together at the end, not to have a chance to make a run was tough.”
He was, however, happy to see his former quarterback go out on top — or, so he assumes. Though Decker said, “knowing him he’s going to play until honestly he can’t physically anymore,” he added: “I hope he walks away. But we’ll see. What better way? No one can say anything. You won a championship on your last year. He should sail off into the sunset.”
Decker received the award for Greatest Public Service by an Athlete at Wednesday’s dinner. He and his wife founded the Eric & Jessie Decker Foundation, which strives to positively impact the lives of United States military service members and veterans as well as animals through fundraising and community outreach. He also is a spokesman for the Jets’ anti-bullying program.
“It’s just an honor,” said the receiver, who was recognized along with Billie Jean King. “I look back and see the list of names that have accepted the honor and this year’s class, it’s a humbling thing.”