How should the Tennessee Titans use Eric Decker.
The Tennessee Titans just signed Eric Decker last night and it has the chance to make this receiving groups special in the NFL.
Before Titans fans get excited, they should know the best way to use Eric Decker. To know that, they need to know what he can do and how to use him best. That’s what this article is.
In this article I am going to break down:
-Eric Decker’s recent history
-How he has been reviewed as a route runner
-What role he should play
-Then go through a step-by-step process of how to use him and who he should split time with.
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Let’s look at his history. Here are the stat lines from his last five healthy years:
2011: 44 rec., 612 yards, 8 TDs
2012: 85 rec., 1,064 yards, 13 TDs
2013: 87 rec., 1,288 yards, 11 TDs
2014: 74 rec., 962 yards, 5 TDs
2015: 80 rec., 1,027 yards, 12 TDs
He did that with all kinds of QBs from Geno Smith to Peyton Manning. He has been a WR1 and a WR2 and he has played boundary and in the slot.
“Route Running: 30/30
Watching Decker execute a breaking route is a thing of beauty. He’s fluid in his cuts and does a great job setting up defenders with his feet. He might be a bit tall for some scouts, but his smooth movements and subtle fakes produce high-end results. He’s accomplished as a route-runner at every level of the field.“
“Route Running: 38/40
As the Jets’ primary slot receiver, Decker has exceptional size (6’3″, 214 lbs) to push smaller nickel defenders up the field or box them out on underneath routes. Where Decker excels is when getting a hard push off the line and then using his size to spin and act as a shield between the defender and the ball on option routes. He understands how to find space, and with defenses generally keeping two defenders on Brandon Marshall, he was able to find plenty of soft spots over the middle and on intermediate routes. Decker isn’t used much on the sideline, but grading his influence in the slot still results in a big score.”
Here is what Greg Cosell said about Decker’s potential fit as a Titans receiver:
So, essentially Cosell and Matt Miller say that his best fit for the Tennessee Titans is in the slot.
The other big question is, can he block?
There is a quick answer to that: yes.
It is something mentioned in passing, but it usually gets brought up with Decker. His massive 6’3 frame is imposing in the running game.
While he is bigger than boundary cornerbacks, the height difference between he and most slot corners is astounding. So when he lines up against them knowing he gets to block them, he should be licking his chops.
If you are looking for a metric to point to, last year he was the 7th best run blocking wide receiver according to PFF.
What does it all mean?
Alright, so that is a lot of information to digest. Here is the gist of all of that.
Where do you line him up?
I would line him up in the slot.
How do you split time with the other receivers?
Depending on matchups, he and Taywan Taylor should split 100% of the slot snaps.
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What role would he play?
He would be almost like a 2nd tight end in 3WR sets. He is a very capable blocker and you can run him the EXACT same way you used Delanie Walker when he wasn’t lined up inline.
So that is it. He doesn’t take any reps from Corey Davis or Rishard Matthews. He gives Taywan Taylor and Jonnu Smith more time to develop.
More importantly, it would allow the Tennessee Titans to play chess matches with defensive coordinators.
If you are a DC and you want to play small ball, Terry Robiskie rolls out Davis and Matthews on the outside, Decker in the slot, Walker inline and you pound the ball or throw the ball up and let your big WRs get it.
Try to counter that with size, Corey Davis stays out there and I put Taywan Taylor either in the slot or as WR2, move Jonnu Smith to the slot or inline, and keep Walker inline.
You can’t stop this offense without some top-end talent in the defensive backfield.