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Week 1 vs. BAL
Receiving: 2 / 13 / 0 on 5 targets
Dustin Keller fed on scraps for most of the night. On a beautiful deep pass down the seam from Sanchez, Keller secured the catch in a tight window with a defender bearing down on him, displaying his athletic prowess. Unfortunately, a penalty meant the play came back.
Keller showed poor awareness at the end of the game on the Jets' final chance on 4th and 10 when he caught a pass and didn't know where he was on the field. As a result, he stepped out of bounds short of the line to gain and the game was over. Keller should have the presence of mind to stick the ball into his left hand and move it into position for a first down.
Week 2 vs. NE
Receiving: 7 / 115 / 1 on 9 targets
t's hard to say Keller's 7 catch, 115 yds, 1 TD night was a coming out party but it was the sort of performance the team hoped for last season and more than made up for his play in week 1.
It didn't begin that way, as the first target went off the tight end's hands and nearly was intercepted. Keller was then largely absent until the middle of the second quarter when he took a short pass for 13 yards. Sanchez then went to Keller twice during the drive to end the half, both throws resulting in a first down.
Keller showed his great athleticism on two passes, one where he took a deep pass for a 39 yard gain in the third quarter and again when he used his body to block out the New England defender and make a touchdown catch to ice the game in the 4th. Keller was a reliable target on Sunday and had a tremendous day. How often the Jets will target him each game is hard to say, but his ability was clear against the Patriots who seemed to have no answer for him.
Week 3 vs. MIA
Receiving: 6 / 98 / 2 on 10 targets
For Dustin Keller, this was a tale of two halves.
Early in the game, Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan adjusted to the absence of Braylon Edwards (who was benched for a quarter as punishment for his DUI earlier the past week) with a healthy dose of Dustin Keller.
To say it was effective is an understatement.
Keller has really stepped up and shown the athleticism and physicality the team expected from him last season. More than once he used his big body to block out a Miami defender and keep him away from the ball while Keller hauled in the catch. This was most prominently on display during his first touchdown catch, where he was able to force his way in front of a defender so that he had no chance to stop Keller from making the reception.
Keller also made some very good blocks on various plays, including a long run by LaDainian Tomlinson.
Based on a huge first half, the second two quarters were a tremendous disappointment. Keller was not targeted often and it seemed as if two things happened. First, the Dolphins found ways to cover him more effectively, making it harder for Sanchez to get him the ball. Second, the Jets offense began to skew more towards Braylon Edwards.
However, Keller continued to play well, making blocks both for pass and run plays and contributing in whatever way he could to the team's efforts.
Week 4 vs. BUF
Receiving: 4 / 28 / 2 on 6 targets
Keller continues his assault on the top ranks of tight ends in the NFL, with his second 2 TD performance in a row. Even though the team, as a whole, neither needed nor wanted to throw the ball a ton, Keller managed to be productive. He has already matched his TD total from the last two years combined (5 total) and though his yardage total was low on Sunday, it's clear he has every chance of shattering his career marks for both touchdowns and yardage.
The rapport he has with Sanchez was once again on display as during his second touchdown, when a play fake completely fooled the defense, drawing them in towards the line while three Jets players found themselves wide open in the end zone. Sanchez never looked at anyone else, and threw a school-yard toss to Keller for a touchdown. Even gimmick package QB Brad Smith can't look elsewhere as he threw a touchdown to the tight end as well.
Keller also once again showed solid blocking and overall great effort on every snap. He's getting better every game and the Jets are bent on use
Week 5 vs. MIN
Receiving: 2 / 14 / 0 on 5 targets
Keller was quiet in the first half of this game with his first catch coming on a 3rd down conversion with just 3 minutes left in the half. Keller was targeted in the end zone on a 3rd in goal the final seconds, but the combination of pouring rain, a soaking wet ball and poor visibility was enough to cause the incompletion. He dropped a couple of catchable balls in the 2nd half, which is uncharacteristic for Sanchez's security blanket. Look for better days ahead from Keller.
Week 6 vs. DEN
Receiving: 3 / 75 / 0 on 6 targets
Keller does an excellent job of getting himself open, and Sanchez really looks for him. His 41 yard reception came at a critical time and showcased his speed which really comes in handy when you are going against linebackers. Keller is the one receiver in the offense that you know will get looks and receptions and that you can count on.
Week 8 vs. GB
Receiving: 2 / 45 / 0 on 6 targets
Most of Keller's 45 yards on the day came on one 40-yard reception in the second quarter. Although he only had two catches in the game, he was targeted five times. On one of the targets Keller basically caught the ball cleanly but saw it wrestled away by Packers cornerback Charles Woodson who clearly wanted it more.
Week 9 vs. DET
Receiving: 4 / 59 / 0 on 5 targets
After a hot start, Dustin Keller has cooled off quite a bit and he was completely invisible in the first half save for a false start penalty in the second quarter. All his work came in the second half and when he was finally thrown to, he was able to use his body to fight off and make the grab. Twice he made key receptions which set the Jets up to score. One was in the late fourth quarter when he made a leaping catch, in stride, for 25 yards, which led to a Mark Sanchez 1 yard touchdown. One drive later, during a Jets two minute drill, Keller again made a big catch, leaping to get an 11 yard strike for a first down, which extended the drive, which eventually ended with a game-tying field goal. While Keller isn't used as often as he was to start the season, Sanchez clearly looks to him for big moments and will continue to trust the tight end to make the plays the team needs, when they need them.
Week 10 vs. CLE
Receiving: 3 / 25 / 0 on 9 targets
Sanchez targeted Keller often in the second half, but the normally sure-handed and reliable tight end couldn't come down with the ball often. Keller did make a key catch in overtime where he caught the ball over the middle and gained a first down. But for the most part, try as Sanchez and the Jets might, Keller just was unable to make a big impact in this game.
Week 11 vs. HOU
Receiving: 2 / 7 / 0 on 6 targets
Keller has not been having a good month and Sunday was no different. It's not that he isn't being targeted, although with the emergence of Holmes, he has certainly seen a few less targets. The problem is Keller is not coming down with many of the passes that do get thrown his way. On one opportunity on a crossing route, Sanchez delivered the ball on a rope, right to Keller. Whether it was the defender draped on him or the fact that Santonio Holmes crossed in front of him as the ball came, he was unable to hang on and the Jets could not convert the first down. The more this happens, the less likely Sanchez can - or will - look to him for production.
Week 12 vs. CIN
Receiving: 4 / 49 / 0 on 4 targets
Keller remains Sanchez' safety valve, and was one of his most effective weapons against a tough Cincy defense. Keller is one of the safer TE's to play, as you know Sanchez will look his way, and he also has big play ability.
Week 13 vs. NE
Receiving: 3 / 27 / 0 on 4 targets
Keller and the NYJ passing game was really non-existent as Sanchez had an erratic game vs. the Patriots. Keller was mostly lost in this offense of 4 and 5 receivers and only received checkdown passes or modest gains over the middle.
Week 14 vs. MIA
Receiving: 3 / 34 / 0 on 12 targets
Mark Sanchez looked for Keller a ton in this game but Keller had very little success with his opportunities. The two had worked during the off season to build a rapport but that was not in evidence Sunday. The disconnect was most evident on a play in the second quarter which nearly resulted in an interception. On the play, Keller stopped on a route when Sanchez very clearly thought he was going to keep going. The ball went right to Dolphins corner back Sean Smith who dropped it. Keller has been a nonfactor for some time now and it seems as though he has lost whatever chemistry he had with his young quarterback.
Week 15 vs. PIT
Receiving: 3 / 19 / 0 on 5 targets
Keller's drop-off in production has been disappointing for such a gifted player, but with the Jets' style of play, there are only so many targets and catches to go around. Holmes' return has dominated a lot of those opportunities. Keller's modest numbers in this game are a bit telling, but he was targeted in key situations, which shows that the Jets still value his skills. On a 3rd-and-3 with 2:24 left, the Jets made a curious decision to throw the ball instead of running off 24 seconds to the two-minute warning and punting. On that play, they targeted Keller, but the ball was knocked away by Steelers' safety (and Troy Polamalu replacement) Ryan Mundy. Keller's skill set demands that he be utilized in the passing game, and Jets need to do a better job of creating mismatches with him as they did during their playoff run last year.
Week 16 vs. CHI
Receiving: 7 / 79 / 0 on 9 targets
After a pair of quiet outings, Keller was a much more vital part of this offense against the Bears. Keller seemed to have much success finding room to maneuver in the middle of the field, and Sanchez was locked onto him on the second drive. He gave great effort for extra yards on every catch, once leaping into the air late in the 3rd quarter looking for a first down. It was a dangerous jump as he was upended and nearly fell on his head, but was a key play to extend the drive. Keller was much more of a factor in the first half and far more quiet in the second, though he did make two important catches later in the game.
Week 18 vs. IND
Receiving: 3 / 42 / 0 on 9 targets
Keller's statline is a little misleading. Nine targets for three catches is abysmal, but when your quarterback is as shaky as Mark Sanchez was in the first half, you can be sure many of those targets were not high quality.
Sanchez missed Keller on a perfectly run slant towards the back right corner of the end zone. Keller had a step on his coverage and a lot of open space in front of him, but Sanchez flat out overthrew him. But he targeted the tight end immediately, this time overthrowing him in the middle of the field. Keller was targeted one more time, with a pass that was un-catchable because it was thrown right into the arms of coverage. Keller had no chance and it was a poorly thrown ball and a bad decision.
There was a period during this where Keller spent more time complaining then running routes. But even if he hadn't been upset with the officials, many of his targets were nowhere near quality.
Week 19 vs. NE
Receiving: 3 / 15 / 0 on 5 targets
Keller did very little in the passing game, with only three short receptions, but he did throw a key block downfield to get Jerricho Cotchery about 15-20 extra yards on his big play.
Week 20 vs. PIT
Receiving: 8 / 64 / 0 on 10 targets
Keller did a good job with Lawrence Timmons on him in coverage during the fourth quarter, making some crucial catches to help the Jets pull within one score in the late fourth quarter. He was also targeted on a play action pass during the the failed goal-line sequence that was rushed by Sanchez, but Keller's usual lapses from the regular season did not really surface in this game.