When discussing the relationship between quarterback and receiver the importance of chemistry cannot be overstated. Without it and an irreparable schism is created (See Tom Brady and the artist formerly known as Chad Ochocinco). With it, however, hearts pump, birds sing and chains move.
Passing parts working in unison really is a thing of beauty.
According to Broncos beat writers, the pair, who have worked together nonstop since mini-camp, are on the same page. Short-field passes from Manning have routinely found their target, most times falling into the hands of Decker. Those connections could be a preview of what's to come. From Mike Klis of the Denver Post:
Too bad for Peyton Manning and Eric Decker the regular season is still six weeks away. The quarterback and receiver are working together like they were ready yesterday. On a one-on-one red zone drill, Manning threw a well-timed back-shoulder pass with zip. Decker was blanketed by rookie corner Omar Bolden but the receiver turned as the ball was at his head, fell back and made a terrific catch as he landed on his backside. Score!
So far, Manning has looked every bit the player that owns four MVP trophies, at least on short throws. Though the future HOFer contends he's still not 100-percent, his passes within 20 yards have looked zippy and precise. Still, however, deep balls are a different story. Somewhat inaccurate and fluttery in nature, they remain a work in progress. Until that part of his game resurfaces, he may be more of a Kurt Warner type, a passer who nickles and dimes opponents.
For prospective Decker investors, that's music to their ears.
The slippery wideout possesses the size, speed and route-running skills needed to excel in a slant-heavy system (Sidebar: His lady-wooing talents are also quite spectacular). In a way, he reminds one of another No. 87 "Big" Ed McCaffrey, who hauled in 64 receptions for 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns during Denver's title year in 1998. His quarterback that season was John Elway. This year, another living legend could help an unheralded Denver receiver reach new heights.
Recall Decker was well on his way to a WR top-25 season (70-844-10 pace) before the Mile High Messiah, Tim Tebow, descended from the heavens in Week 7 to supplant Kyle Orton, crushing the wideout's value. With a more accurate QB under center, it's not outlandish to think he could grab 90-plus catches with well over 1,000 yards. Peter King, who visited Englewood, Col., over the weekend, certainly painted an optimistic picture. Next to Antonio Brown, Decker is the most underappreciated receiver in drafts (72.5 Y! ADP, WR29), particularly in PPR settings. He's a monster in the making.
Of course, Demaryius Thomas will also carve out a prominent role, but, right now, he's likely the overvalued Broncos receiver. The popular breakout candidate chose to work out with Calvin Johnson during OTAs instead of getting to know his new quarterback, a move that is already costing him. As Klis noted Sunday, Thomas dropped an undefended cross-pattern pass, which led the writer to conclude he and Manning "need more time." With over a month until the opener, the duo has eons, but Thomas acknowledged in late June he relied more on improvisation than precision in his routes during his first two years in the league, steepening his learning curve. That admittance combined with Peyton's downfield shortcomings means the wideout could be wildly inconsistent this season, making him overpriced at his current 40.8 Yahoo! ADP (WR17).
Assuming Manning's head remains attached, it appears Decker, and not Thomas, is poised to become his newest bosom buddy.
Fearless Forecast (Decker, 16 games): 94 receptions, 1,188 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
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