Overshadowed by all of the Odell Beckham Jr. talk is the Jets’ best offensive asset. All 6-4, 230 pounds of him.
Brandon Marshall may not be the fastest guy or the most talented. And he’s certainly not the flashiest. But if the Jets (6-5) hope to put up points against the Giants (5-6) in Sunday’s battle for MetLife Stadium bragging rights, Marshall will need to have another monster game.
“Brandon is our go-to guy,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said of his best weapon, who had nine catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over the Dolphins. “He’s a great playmaker. He seems to step up every time we need a play. His football IQ is so high, it’s really helpful for a quarterback.”
Undoubtedly, Beckham is a star on the rise. But Marshall, a 10-year veteran, quietly has been keeping pace with the 23-year-old. In fact, their statistics are pretty even, with Beckham catching 72 passes for 1005 yards and nine touchdowns and Marshall catching 71 for 931 yards and nine TDs. Even more impressive: Marshall, 31, is on pace to break the Jets’ single-season receptions record — 93 — set by Al Toon in 1988. (Hall of Famer Don Maynard still holds the franchise record for receiving yards in a season, 1,434 in 1967.)
It’s easy to see why Marshall’s so good in the red zone.
“He understands leverage,” offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said. “He knows how to body position versus certain leverages that allow him to make plays in the red zone. He’s just hard to handle, size-wise.
“He’s not a burner, but he can run well enough that you just can’t sit there and play a certain leverage on him and win. He can figure out how to win with enough speed to get that done. You combine the speed and size and ball skills, it’s a pretty good combination.”
Marshall has remained a consistent threat despite lingering ankle and toe injuries. It appeared his ankle no longer was a concern after he was listed on last week’s injury report with only the toe injury. But Marshall this week again required treatment on his ankle, along with his toe. On Friday night, he posted a photo on Instagram of his severely swollen left foot. The caption read: “This is what you call an elephant foot. #mind overmatter”
It remains to be seen how limited he’ll be, if at all, on Sunday. But one thing’s certain: A big-time performance could steal the spotlight from Beckham and possibly ensure a Jets win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“Some receivers, they’re great at finding holes in zones, and I’ve caught a lot of balls in zones and beat double coverage,” Marshall said, explaining his love of facing single coverage. “And I’m savvy. But I really believe, my role on each team, in each year, is to beat one-on-one matchups. Because what happens is they have to put a safety over the top, which creates seven-man boxes, it creates mismatches on the other side of the field for [Eric] Decker and Devin Smith. So that’s my goal.
“It’s not a selfish thing. But I’m trying to dominate my guy so I can open it up for my teammates.”