Following a number of offseason moves, Jets wide receiver Eric Decker finds himself the eldest member of the receiving group and he is now the sixth-oldest player on the roster.
"I still have a young heart, but I do feel old," said Decker, who celebrated his 30th birthday in March. "You hit that 30 mark and you see all these guys born in the mid-90s and you're like, 'Oh, man.' They're all 21 and 22, but it's good. It means you're hanging out and able to have a presence. You have experience and you're able to talk about your experiences. You can lead by what you do and what you say."
No stranger to the swirling winds of an offseason, the eight-year veteran said change can be beneficial and spark a team with new energy. Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has stressed his goal is to make every position as competitive as possible, and the wideouts are no exception. Outside of Decker, the unit features third-year player Quincy Enunwa, who had a breakout year in 2016 with career highs in yards (857), touchdowns (four) and receptions (58), and a trio of second-year players in Robby Anderson, Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall. The team also added Quinton Patton to the mix in free agency and a pair of pass catchers in the draft in third-round pick ArDarius Stewart (Alabama) and fourth-round pick Chad Hansen (California).
"We have a solid group in the receivers room. Quincy had a great year last year, Robby made some big plays. We have depth and young guys, so it's going to be fun to develop and see that chemistry," Decker said. "I really feel like the receivers room is what makes the offense go, especially this offense we have now. They're going to rely on us to make some plays and score some touchdowns."
After a six-month rehab following hip and shoulder surgeries, Decker is happy to be back around his teammates for Phase Two of the offseason workout program. This phase marks the first time players can interact with coaches, which is especially significant for the offensive players and their new coordinator, John Morton.
"He's intense. I love Johnny Mo," Decker said. "He loves the game of football. He's very intelligent and he's been around a lot of good coaches and systems. I think this system is going to be good for us as far as getting the ball out and making some plays. He pushes us whether it's the meeting room or on the field. Expectations are high and that's great because you can't settle for being mediocre. I think he's the guy to push us to that next level."
Unhappy with the results of last season, the players are making an extra effort to change the script for 2017. Even though the regular season is four months away, their goal is to finish, whether it be strength, practice or games.
"I think we're creating an environment of competition with a high-energy, fast-paced system," Decker said. "Whether it's offense/defense or in the meeting rooms, we're competing to be the best. We have to set the standard high and push each other. This is the time now in the offseason when you create these habits. You're able to get on the field, play at a high level and not have to think about it or worry about learning a new system because that's what this time is for."