Denver, CO. 9 catches for 107 yards through two games. Not bad, especially for a young receiver whose best year in the NFL was in 2011, where he caught 44 balls for 612 yards. For Eric Decker, his current pace would have him at 72 receptions for 856 yards, which would obviously be career bests for the third year wide receiver. But for #87 on the Denver Broncos, 107 yards and no TD’s so far is just not good enough. Heading into 2012, most fans and followers of the Broncos saw the opportunity he now had with Peyton Manning in town, and forecasted a big season ahead. A really big season, in fact. His precise route running along with outstanding hands would logically make anyone think that he would have attributes that #18 would love to find in the passing game. But so far, it’s the guy on the other side of the field who Peyton seems to prefer. Demaryius Thomas is having a fantastic start to 2012, as his size and strength have been extremely impressive. Thomas leads the Broncos in targets with 18, having caught 13 balls for 188 yards and a TD in each game. Down in the red zone, Manning seems to be focusing in on big #88, or if he is covered, he then has been looking for Brandon Stokley or one of his tight ends. It is early in the season, but Eric Decker has taken a back seat at this point to a certain degree. Week 3 should open up some opportunities for Decker to finally shine. After two tremendous weeks, Demaryius Thomas should get plenty of attention from the Houston secondary. This should be the week where Eric busts out and reminds everyone that he is still a big part of the Broncos aerial attack.
There are some things that you just can’t ignore when it comes to the Denver Broncos receivers. It sure looks like Demaryius Thomas is the real deal and if he can stay healthy, a trip to the Pro Bowl should happen for him very soon. He has the rare combination of size, speed, and power to be frightening for any defense to have to counteract. Brandon Stokley still gets the job done in the slot, as it is obvious that Manning trusts him just as much as he always has. Stokley still knows how to master his inside receiving position and get open on critical third downs. When it comes to Eric Decker, his skill set is something that is very different from the other two. He is not overly big, and doesn’t have blazing speed. He is, however, one of the most versatile young receivers in the entire league. He is not the type of player who is outstanding at any one thing, but he can do so many things very well. He can go deep, he run the underneath routes, and will be go over the middle and make tough catches in traffic. He displayed all of these things at the University of Minnesota, and has only gotten better at these things as a pro. The key though going forward, will be getting Peyton Manning to trust him and getting open more often than in the first two weeks. The opportunity to do these things should begin this Sunday. Without a doubt, the Texans have noticed how deadly Demaryius Thomas has been in the Denver passing game. It would only make sense that they put their best cover corner, Johnathan Joseph, on Thomas all day to try to take him away. Joseph is a Pro Bowl cornerback, and truly one of the best at his position in the AFC. So this opens the door for Decker to emerge and do some serious damage. Houston is outstanding at stopping the run, so Manning may have to chuck it more than normal this week. The Texans will be tough to knock off, and it may come down to someone other than Demaryius to make some game-changing plays in order for the Broncos to win. Eric Decker is the guy to do so, and it only makes sense that this is the week for him to crash the party.
Eric Decker is still learning the NFL game and also learning what Peyton wants from his receivers. It’s a work in progress, and it will still take some time for everyone on the offense to master things. It shouldn’t be surprising if the passing game continues to struggle at times in the next few weeks. Peyton Manning has been a pro since 1998, but he is dealing with two starting wide receivers who were in middle school when he entered the NFL. Eric Decker has been somewhat quiet against Pittsburgh and Atlanta, but he is too talented and too disciplined to stay down for long. #87 should make his presence known against the Texans, and a breakout performance would be a much-needed addition to the Broncos offense.