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Rex Ryan on Eric Decker as No. 1 WR: He caught 8 TDs from Tim Tebow

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Can Eric Decker be a legit No. 1 WR with the Jets? (USATSI)
Can Eric Decker be a legit No. 1 WR with the Jets? (USATSI)

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It's fair to question whether the Jets overpaid for Eric Decker, the former Broncos wide receiver who had 87 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns last season while playing with Peyton Manning.

And now, months after signing a five-year, $36 million deal, he's penciled in as the Jets' No. 1 receiver, a role former second-round pick Stephen Hill has yet to grow into.

"I think everyone wants to be that guy," Decker said Wednesday, according to Newsday.com. "You've just got to be able to prove it."

But there's no way Decker puts up similar numbers with second-year quarterback Geno Smith, right?

Coach Rex Ryan would like a word.

“He did catch eight touchdown passes when [Tim] Tebow was the quarterback,” Ryan pointed out. And he has first-hand experience with just how bad Tebow was as an NFL quarterback.

(To be fair, the Jets' quarterback situation in 2012 could kindly be described as untenable, which explains why Tebow and Mark Sanchez are gone, and general manager Mike Tannenbaum was fired.)

This is where we point out (as was pointed out to us in the comments below) that while Decker caught eight touchdowns in 2011, four came from Kyle Orton before he was benched.

In fact, in the first five weeks of the season with Orton, Decker averaged 4.4 receptions for 53 yards, and 0.8 TDs per game. From Week 7 onward with Tebow, Decker averaged 2 receptions for 32 yards and 0.4 touchdowns per game.

More from Ryan: "Clearly, [Decker] is going to be a go-to guy. We know what we're getting. This is going to be a guy that you can get him the ball in critical situations."

Quarterback Michael Vick, who may or may not be competing for the starting job depending on who's telling the story, agrees.

"I think Decker has been great," he said. "Him and Geno have had a lot of reps and work with him in the one-on-ones. He's doing a great job. He's everything as advertised."

Last season, Decker ranked fourth in total value among all NFL wideouts, according to Football Outsiders. In 2011, when he caught eight Tebow-thrown touchdowns, he ranked 71st. The point: On the quarterback spectrum, Smith is closer to Tebow than Manning, which means that it's not realistic to expect Decker to replicate his 2013 numbers in 2014 (but you already knew that).

That said, he should be an upgrade over last year's cast of characters, which was led by Jeremy Kerley's 43 catches, 523 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

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