Thursday, 24 May 2012
Decker the balls with throws from Manning fa-la-la-la la-de-la-la-la
If the whole Peyton Manning post-neck surgery move to Denver move turns out the way Broncos head coach John Fox envisions it we will be watching the white-horses gallop into the playoffs as we are gathered round the hearth singing Christmas carols.
If that scenario is to become more than a festive wish then one man will need to become a household name, wide receiver Eric Decker.
Manning can turn good players into Pro-Bowl players and now is the time for that magical 'third-year' breakout for Decker, who has gone from a very slow rookie season, to a respectable but by no means above-average 44 catches in 2011.
When your quarterbacks were both Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow, the man who as they say in the NFL Network Rich Eisen podcast trailer 'has the passion of Ray Lewis and the throwing ability of Ray Lewis', then 44 catches is probably more of a best case scenario than a season unfulfilled.
Now with one of the NFL's greatest ever passers behind him Decker can go from 44 to 94 catches without even blinking.
I hear from the NBC Pro Football Talk podcast that during the organised team activities (OTA's) currently taking place that Manning has been throwing low risk short passes, and not airing it out.
Regardless if this is a ploy to show a 'vanilla' offense to the assembled throng of journalists or simply a fact that Manning is not ready to launch rockets, Decker will be growing in confidence as he catches the 7 yard hooks, the crossing patterns and the short-in routes from a man who already has a Super Bowl winners ring and more personal awards than England has Olympic torch relay torch-bearers.
The Broncos didn't draft a wide receiver this year, a sure sign they are happy with what they already have. They did make an excellent pick in round three, grabbing San Diego State running-back Ronnie Hillman, who by all accounts could push for offensive rookie of the year if he gets off to a great start in camp and in pre-season.
Decker's days of returning kicks and bombing down the field as a special-teams gunner will look to disappear in 2012 as he steps up to a key role catching the pigskin around 6-8 times a game.
Denver's progress into the playoffs will be put onto the broad shoulders of Peyton Manning and his arm, but the brother of two-time Super Bowl winner Eli will need guys like Decker to step up and perform at a Pro-Bowl level.
Decker gets a Pro-Bowl type opportunity to become a household name in 2012, fingers crossed that any injury curse doesn't come back and decker doubles his catch total.