As if we Jets fans don’t have enough in the Land of Uncertainty to surround oursleves with on a daily basis, we’ve had another dent put into the body of hope that hasn’t quite banged itself out just yet. I’m speaking only for some of us because the general perception of this player seems to be split among the fanbase – at least the fanbase I interact with. Then again, that can be said of mainly any player that’s name isn’t Darrelle Revis. Sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean to bring him up and pour salt in yet another wound. Moving on, I’m here to talk about one man and one man only. TE Dustin Keller.
I swear I heard some groans from here but let me explain why he’s the highlight of this particular piece. He’s needed. A lot of people think he’s got scrub written all over him, but a lot of other people see what he brings to the team.
For one, he has incredible chemistry with Sanchez. Many will debate that the merry go round of WRs and supporting “staff” for Sanchez in every year of his NFL career hasn’t made a difference but it simply stands to reason that it has and it will continue to.
Not only is the rapport on the field built on trust, understanding and just being able to connect with one another, but there is the off the field rapport as well. Keller came to the defense of his quarterback – and friend – many times last year and in this past off season. When Sanchez was MIA and silent, Dustin spoke on his behalf and probably not because he was asked to, but because he felt the need to be the voice of the man so many people only wanted to hear from so that they could blast him further.
Beyond that, here is something important to note. Sanchez has success when his favorite target is on the field and it’s not always shown in the number of completions they have between them. Here’s why: Teams know who Mark’s favorite person to throw is. His first go-to, if you will. Teams then focus their defenders’ attention on taking Keller out of the equation as best as they can.
What does that do? It leaves other guys open due not only to the increased focus on taking him out of the play but because he can block as well as catch even though he’s not exactly the high example of a blocking tight end. With Reuland taking up the spot John Conner doesn’t deserve to keep the team is still abysmal in terms of depth even with Keller’s hopeful return on Sunday. Still. It allows other guys to have a weaker defender on them so they can break coverage and run a successful route that will up completions and, by God’s good grace, put points on the board. Sure he’s taken a ball to the helmet but who hasn’t? He sometimes gets confused and somersaults over a defender because he obviously thinks he’s in a gymnastics competition and not a football game so let’s just look at that as him showing his scope of athleticism. But he’s capable. He’s also in a contract year so if things don’t pan out we may see yet another weapon run through the merry go round that is the Jets offense. To lose this one, whether you like him or not, would hurt.
Hopefully this is not a tale of the hammy that will never heal because the Jets and Sanchez need him back as soon as possible, so as the reports from practice continue to appear with him being listed as limited and off with the rehab group we sigh and groan and hope that the day we’re told he practiced fully and a coach with the means to decide says he’s a go, we’ll just have to sit and watch Jeff Cumberland blow more routes and run from more balls. Hurry back, Dustin. We need you.
Sydney Kira is a regular contributor to The Green Room. You can follow her on Twitter @SydneyKira1.