John Idzik has been relatively quite so far this free agency, but he has managed bring in two new impact players, receiver Eric Decker and right tackle Breno Giacomini, as well as extending some of his own players such as Nick Folk, Leger Douzable and Jeff Cumberland. It’s still way too early in the process to grade Idzik’s performance in this year’s free agency as a whole, but it’s not too early to grade the signings he actually made. Obvious these grades are subjective as of now and are subject to change based on the play of the signees, but who has the patience required for that?
For most of the positions (cornerback, safety, guard and tight end specifically) Idzik has earned nothing more than an incomplete, fortunately their first game isn’t until September and there’s still another two rounds of cuts to be made by teams and of course the draft in which Idzik can use to finalize a good grade. For now we have two signings to look at and, for the sanity of Jets fans everywhere, hopefully there will be more soon, but let’s stick with what we do have and that’s Decker and Giacomini.
Eric Decker signing – B (with the possibility of turning into an A)
Remember in high school there were always a couple of teachers who would grade a paper you turned in give you some notes so you could rework the paper and hand it during the next class to receive a better grade?
Maybe you got a C, but if you fixed some spelling and grammar or elaborated on some good points the teacher would then give you a B. That’s essentially what’s happening here with the Decker signing. Right now the Decker signing is a solid B, but Idzik still has time to turn this grade into an A.
Decker is a solid receiver and forget the whole is he a number one or two receiver discussion and the implications that come with it, right now Decker would face the other teams top corners each and every week. So by that line of thought, Decker will be the top receiver on the depth chart and technically be the Jets number one receiver. Idzik earned a solid B for this grade so far, but let’s be honest that B was graded on a bit of a curve. This wasn’t a particularly loaded group of free agent receivers, but the Jets desperately needed an upgrade at the position so to be able to sign the consensus best receiver available (even if there’s a minority group that clearly thinks Golden Tate is the superior receiver) is more than enough to give Idzik a B.
Decker is 6’3″ with good hands and a solid route runner. There’s a lot of talk about Peyton Manning making him with the other siding using fuzzy math to argue he’s great because he caught 44 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns with Tim Tebow as his quarterback. Problem with that Tebow point is those numbers aren’t correct, those are his numbers for the entire 2011 season, Tebow was not Decker’s quarterback for the entire 2011 season as Kyle Orton started the first five games for the Broncos that year before Tebow finally replaced him in that fifth game.
Of those eight touchdowns, four of them came with Orton at quarterback (catching two against the Bengals and two against the Packers) and only four of them came from Tebow during an 11-and-a-half game stretch.
In the 11 games Tebow started Decker had 22 total receptions (that’s just two a game), for a total of 346 yards (a high of 72 in a game) and four touchdowns. This isn’t to point out that Decker isn’t good, it’s just to say stop talking about how good he was with Tebow. Decker caught 20 passes for 270 yards (high of 113) and four touchdowns in four games with Orton as the quarterback.
If you want to use numbers of Decker catching passes from a mediocre quarterback to say he’s a quality receiver, use the Orton numbers, that makes sense, but leave the Tebow numbers out of it. Orton was light-years ahead of Tebow as a quarterback, but he was light-centuries away Peyton Manning, putting up those number with Orton is an impressive feat on it’s own.
For the people saying Manning is responsible for Decker’s burst in production over the last two years, well yeah obviously, but it’s even more than that. He put up those numbers with Manning throwing and also not being the number one target, last year opposing defenses had to worry about Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker and strong running game and also Decker. It’s much easier to get open when defenses don’t have to focus one just one or two receivers.
For many teams signing Decker would only earn them a C grade, but he immediately becomes the Jets best overall receiver which is why the curve bumps Idzik’s grade up to a B. There’s no way Decker matches last year’s production with this offense as it’s currently constructed, but he will surely outproduce the likes of Clyde Gates and will open things up for Jeremy Kerley, David Nelson and the tight ends.
But just because he isn’t on the Broncos record-breaking offense anymore doesn’t mean he’s going to turn into a pumpkin of a receiver, look at the numbers with Orton he has the ability to make plays, but he isn’t the fastest receiver and he can too easily be taken out of plays by being jammed at the line.
Still, again, he’s instantly the Jets best receiver so there’s no other way to look at the signing than as a win for the Jets, especially with such a reasonable contract.
But here’s where the first draft gets handed back to Idzik to rework, if Decker is all the Jets add at receiver the grade stays a B, but if he adds a James Jones and drafts a receiver or two then the grade gets bumped up to an A. While a grouping of Decker, Kerley, Nelson and Stephen Hill isn’t going to scare defenses, it’s much better than that grouping without Decker, but adding at least two more playmakers (maybe three if Hill gets excluded) makes Decker that much more valuable. Decker by himself can only upgrade this unit so much, Decker with two other quality receivers upgrades this unit to A, maybe A+ level depending on the players.
Breno Giacomini signing – B-
Fans were upset and worried when they saw Austin Howard sign with the Raiders, but Idzik drew a line in the sand and wasn’t going to offer Howard what he wanted so he let him walk. Jets fans flipped out while Idzik remained calm and went to work finding a replacement. Giacomini is a slight upgrade over Howard, they grade out similarly but Giacomini is the better run blocker, he is older and has had injury issues (only played in nine games last regular season before returning for the Super Bowl run) which is why there is a minus next to the B. Like with Decker this grade can be improved upon, but that can only be done after the season has played out and we see that he stayed healthy and played consistently well.
Last season Giacomini graded out higher than Howard according to Profootballfocus.com, Howard had a slightly better grade against the pass (+1.9 for Howard and +1.0 for Giacomini), but Giacomini graded out as the much better run blocker (-10.2 for Howard and -1.5 for Gaincomini). If Giacomini can stay healthy the Jets and their fan base will forget all about Howard and will be more than pleased with his replacement.
The Jets still need to address their situation at guard, at least one starter needs to be acquired and a backup plan needs to be fully in place if Brian Winters doesn’t step up and cement his spot as one of the starting guards. Guard is one of the positions, along with safety, cornerback and tight end where Idzik has earned an incomplete, but if you think Idzik is going to be the slacker in class that’s not worried about improving his grades then you are sorely mistaken.
Idzik may not break out some fancy slideshow presentation to make a splash, but he’ll will certainly work diligently to upgrade the substance of his work.
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