I doubt you've missed the hoopla, but just to recap: according to a few media sources Eric Decker has stated he'd be interested in playing for Indianapolis. And, Indianapolis may or may not feel the same way. Regardless about how each of us may feel about Decker, Ryan Grigson has made it grossly evident he'll pay for players he wants. So, if the rumors are true and a deal gets done we're gonna have to start getting used to it.
In the end though, the majority of the commentary on Decker has been negative and less than fact-based. I'm not saying I'm not a part of that group. I'm #TeamDaRick all day and wish the Colts could roll with him. But, if they can't something has to happen.
The convenient thing with Eric Decker is, he hasn't just caught passes from Peyton Manning. You can say, "Peyton made Decker great," all you want. But, if the facts aren't there... then that's just not true. The great thing about the Decker debate is, we can look at three different quarterback's with three very different levels of talent. We have Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton, & Peyton Manning who have all thrown the football to Decker. Obviously, like with any stat, none of this is directly indicitive of future success. But, it should be interesting enough to consider.
I'm going to lay out 4 statistics for each quaterback throwing to Decker. In addition, I'll provide the same statistics for that quarterbacks two closest wide-receivers (in attempts). If that doesn't make sense it will when we get into it. The 4 stats are:
2. Completion %
With that, primarily based on attempts and completions, I'll find the closest match between Decker's #'s and one of Andrew Luck's recievers the past two seasons. Let's go!
1. Tim Tebow
to - Eric Decker (2010 - 2011)
58ATT, 43.1%, 14.2YPC, 11.5ATT/TD (Equivelent - Luck to DHB)
to - Demaryius Thomas
78ATT, 45.1%, 17.2YPC, 17.75ATT/TD
to - Eddie Royal
52ATT, 32.7%, 7.4YPC, 52ATT/TD
So, already two very interesting figures for both arguments. Realitively close numbers of attempts for all three wide receivers. Decker measures out much better for completion % than Royal, but less than Demaryius Thomas. At least to my recollection, Thomas wasn't the "hands" on the team in the Pre-Manning Broncos era. Interesting that Thomas has a higher comp% with a higher exposure.
Conversely, Decker was (definitely in regards to Royal) the superior receiver in scoring plays producing a touchdown in 6.25 less attempts than Thomas. Next...
2. Kyle Orton
to - Eric Decker (2010 - 2011)
46ATT, 54.3%, 14YPC, 11.5ATT/TD (Equivelent - Luck to Trent Richardson)
to - Justin Gage
46ATT, 54.3%, 11.28YPC, 46ATT/TD
to - Tony Scheffler
48ATT, 62.5%, 13.8YPC, 24ATT/TD
Orton's spread of targets is a bit weird. I'm going to also provide Orton's three top targets as well as Demaryius Thomas.
to - Brandon Lloyd
221ATT, 51.6%, 16.8YPC, 20.1ATT/TD
to - Jabar Gaffney
185ATT, 60.5%, 13.1YPC, 46.25ATT/TD
to - Brandon Marshall
149ATT, 67.1%, 11.2YPC, 14.9YPC
to - Demaryius Thomas
37ATT, 59.5%, 12.9YPC, 18.5ATT/TD
Ok... a lot to look at here. There's a few different offenses. A few different skill positions. And... a LOT of numbers. I didn't necessarily expect to have all the answers. But, let's see what we can come up with.
So, we can at least give Decker credit that he's as good as his quarterback jumping from a 43% catch rate to over 50%. Orton played with both Jebar Gaffney & Brandon Lloyd for Denver. Orton and Gage played together for Chicago in 2005. So, although there can be an assessment given the identical number of targets and comp% there, it's probably irrelevant how much more YPC & ATT/TD Decker produced.
But, going back to Gaffney, Lloyd, & Thomas, they all played for Denver with Orton. Decker is again in the middle or below average in catch rate. And, yet again Decker is the most "productive" in reference to YPC & ATT/TD. I initially thought there might be something to consider with Tony Scheffler's numbers. But, based on the fact that Brandon Marshall's numbers are so superior to everyone else I just don't think you can make the arguement that Scheffler was more of a receiving threat than Thomas, Lloyd, & Decker, but just not quite as good as Marshall. That's silly talk.
So, I feel at this point we can make a fair assessment of Decker based on prior knowledge we've just obtained, and his output in Peyton Manning's system. One last thing I'll do, after all the whole purpose is to paint a picture for my Colts brethren, so with the "Luck to" comparison, I'll provide a "Peyton to" comparison as well for Decker's numbers as they might relate to a former Colts receiver.
3. Peyton Manning
to - Eric Decker (2012 - 2013)
256ATT, 66.4%, 13.8YPC, 10.7ATT/TD (Equivelent - Peyton to Brandon Stokley)
to - Demaryius Thomas
282ATT, 65.6%, 15.5YPC, 11.75ATT/TD
to - Julius Thomas
89ATT, 71.9%, 12.2YPC, 7.4ATT/TD
So, has anyone else noticed the constant trends in all of this. First of all, Decker's catch rate appears to be completely indicitive of whoever is throwing him the ball. He's been in very close comparison with Denver's perceived #1 receiver, Demaryius Thomas. But, what I find really eye popping is of the 8 total receivers we just analyzed, in all three situations Decker is producing a touchdown in 11.5 attempts or less. The closest comparison to that touchdown output in the Colts current offense is Luck to LaVon Brazill. Brazill has produced a touchdown every 15.6 attempts as a Colt. To compare, T.Y. Hilton is producing a touchdown every 19 attempts. And, Reggie Wayne every 36.
The only player to produce a higher output than Brazill for the Colts is... drum roll everybody... Da'Rick Rogers. Unfortunately, I don't have Rogers' snap count in front of me. But, what I can say is Rogers appeared in 5 games for Indianapolis last season. And, he produced 2 TD's on 21 attempts with 14 completions. I had no agenda for this, so let's just lay out Luck to Da'Rick.
21ATT, 66.7%, 13.7YPC, 10.5ATT/TD
I know I didn't ellaborate fully in the beginning, but as I end this post my stance on Eric Decker hasn't changed a whole lot. First of all, I am probably unrealistically optimistic of how Da'Rick Rogers might contribute for Indianapolis this season given a full off-season with Andrew Luck. I'm concerned with how adding a veteran wide receiver to the mix might adversely affect that possibility. And, if Ryan Grigson so chooses to make Eric Decker a Colt, he needs to do it cheap. Like, if news breaks and the name "Mike Wallace" is used in any context in regards to absolutely any aspect of the deal I'm gonna be pissed. The Decker deal would need to be so "cheap" that people don't even care to point out how much less he pulled than Wallace.
But, at the same time, again these numbers are worth their weight in ink. Nothing matters until it happens on Sunday. Yet, after running through these numbers I've actually gained considerable interest in Decker. No matter how much of a scrub of a quarterback he's played with he's been realitively on par with Demaryius Thomas' numbers. And, he's consistently scored touchdowns at a strong rate.
So, I say if Eric Decker is willing to play for the Colts for around $3-4M/yr, and Pep can find a way to get enough playing time out of Wayne, Hilton, Rogers, Decker, & Dwayne Allen i'm open to it now. I just don't know that either of those circumstances is possible, much less both of them.
Thanks a bunch for reading. Hit me up on Twitter, @Ross_Wheatley.