Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Why Emmanuel Sanders is an Upgrade Over Eric Decker


No one can question the popularity of Eric Decker but Emmanuel Sanders is a better receiver for the offense of the Denver Broncos. It would be foolish to say that Sanders has had a better career than Decker to this point, but the ceiling for Sanders is much higher.

Decker, as productive as he was for the Broncos, is what he is and there’s not much room for improvement. In fact it’s likely that his numbers will drop off being away from Peyton Manning and the Broncos explosive offense.

Sanders, on the other hand, has only scratched the surface of his potential. He spent his first five seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a run first oriented team. Sanders had his best individual season in 2013 with 67 catches for 740 yards and six touchdowns. If all goes to plan, Sanders will eclipse those numbers in week 12.

Those are just numbers though and anyone can look those up, what does Sanders bring to the Broncos that Decker did not?

The first thing that jumps out at you about Sanders is his ability to beat press coverage, and get into his pattern quickly. The Broncos, especially Decker, really struggled with the press coverage from the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. No one is blaming Decker for the horrific performance of the Broncos in the Super Bowl but when he was taken out of the game, it affected the entire offense.

Sanders possess the quickness to get off the line and give Peyton Manning an early target to look for. That ability is also vital versus a team with a great pass rush. Believe it or not there were some plays to be made underneath in the Super Bowl but outside of Demaryius Thomas, no one was beating the press coverage. Sanders presence will be felt immediately in that area.

The Broncos offense is built on timing and with the idea that the receivers will do something with the ball after the catch. Sanders can take a five-yard crossing route and turn it into a 55-yard touchdown. Decker wasn’t bad after the catch but does not have the speed or explosiveness of Sanders.

In addition to his ability to take a short pass and turn it into a big play, Sanders can also get deep. Manning may not throw the deep ball that often anymore, but he will do it when that’s what the matchup dictates. Sanders has the speed to get behind a defense and that will put even more pressure on opposing defenses.

If they have to account for Sanders running a fly route or a deep post, then the safety cannot cheat on the shorter patterns. Both D. Thomas and Julius Thomas will benefit from Sanders stretching the defense.

In a lot of ways, the Broncos offense was built for a receiver like Sanders. The goal of the offense is to get their playmakers into favorable matchups, and take advantage of those matchups. Sanders is a matchup problem no matter where he lines up.

If he lines up on the outside, then defenses have to worry about his speed and will often be forced to keep a safety deep. If Sanders lines up in the slot, then defenses have to commit more players to the middle of the field to prevent the big play. In both cases, Manning and the Broncos should see favorable matchups.

Decker was and is a very good receiver, and many Broncos’ fans will probably always have a place in their heart for him. However when the Broncos signed Sanders after Decker left, it was an upgrade.

Tags: Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos Emmanuel Sanders Eric Decker

  • anon76returns

    Still not convinced it was an upgrade. Sanders definitely adds some diversity to the offense, which is a good thing. Sanders definitely has both speed and quickness advantages over Decker, and they both have pretty good hands. Decker was a much better route runner, more effective downfield blocker, and has a much better catch radius. It also appears that Sanders was significantly cheaper, which is definitely a plus for the organization. If Sanders can really beat press as well as advertised, and he improves his route running, then I think it will be an upgrade. At the moment I’m not willing to say more than that he gives our offense more options.

  • Donald Johnson

    I Tend To Agree…Eric Decker Was Basically Demaryuis Thomas The Last 2 Years Matching 24 TDs And 1,000 Yards Both Seasons While Starting Every Game…Decker’s Double Move Ability Is One Of Best In NFL Sad To Not See Any In That Super Bowl…Sherman Was On Eric Most Of The Game And Outside Of Going Against Best Teams Top CB, Decker Had Best Hands On Team And Was Optimus Prime Himself Production Wise…Even When Tebow Was There, He Won In KC With TD On Brandon Flowers And Beat Him 3 Times Deep (2 For TDs) In KC This Year…All This Said, What I Didnt Like About Eric Decker Was His Skill Set Was Basically Demaryuis Thomas 1.B They Both Brought Same Things…Emmanuel Sanders Certainly Isnt Eric Decker Yet If That Is An Improvement Or Not Remains To Be Seen…Bey Bey Admitted Eric Was Quicker And Broncos Will Miss His Double Move Routes Yet Sanders Is Quickest WR They Have And I Expect To See More 4 And 5 WR Sets This Year…Am I Only One Who Felt Andre Caldwell Could Have Made A Dent Into Decker’s Production If Given Chance To Start? I Was Impressed With Bubba Caldwell Play In Limited Chances…Manning Missed Him On 2 Or 3 Other Open Deep Shots That Would Have Been TDs On Top Of 3 He Had As 4th WR…Frankly I Think Emmanuel Sanders Will Eat Into Wes Welker’s Role In Slot And I Think Who Will Try To Replace Decker Is Cody Latimer…I Wanted Brandon Stokley And Wes In Slots For 2013, Maybe Emmanuel Sanders And Wes Welker Can Both Work Inside 4 WR Sets This Year!!!

    • 45coltauto

      Yo, Donald. When they told you to capitalize the first letter is school they meant the first letter of a SENTENCE, not the first letter of every word.

      • Donald Johnson

        Thats The Spirit Of Martin Luther King, Respond To Style Of Writting And NOT The Content Of Character…Great Job Dude!!!

  • Csibi Attila

    better fit for the offense? arguable. Decker was on fire with Manning.
    higher ceiling?? NO WAY!

    Decker is bigger, stronger, faster, overall more athletic and a lot more intelligent.

    • Lonnie A

      So please explain how Decker was invisible in the Super Bowl then. Decker was bigger and slower. Also, a blade of grass will not tackle Sanders.

      • Csibi Attila

        easy… because as usual Peyton panicked and only threw to D. Thomas.

        i actually made a bet on that and won big

  • Tannim

    The biggest upgrade is that Sanders won’t trip over the yard markers.

  • Kenneth Schoonover

    Emmanuel didn’t have the stats in Pittsburgh that Eric did in Denver. But I agree that Emmanuel is an upgrade. He’s quick and he has decent hands, just like Eric does. But Eric’s main ability was getting in the end zone. What happens if you’re a receiver and you have to work to get open? Eric never had to do that the last couple of years because Peyton was his QB and because of his speed and his ability to run. Emmanuel, from what I’ve seen of him, has gotten used to making the tough receptions. He won’t have as many TD catches as Eric did, but I think he’ll be good at making the catch when the opposing team’s CB is challenging him. Seeing how the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman blanketed Denver’s wideouts in Super Bowl 48, I think Emmanuel is a good fit for Peyton and the Broncos’ offense.