Can Marty Mornhinweg Save Dustin Keller With the Jets?


Dec. 2, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller (81) celebrates on the field against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

A big topic of conversation among Jets fans is what to do with Dustin Keller. We know his story, he is Mark Sanchez’s favorite target. He was the Jets leading receiver in 2011, and an unrestricted free agent as we talk now. He was looking for a new contract prior to the start of 2012, the Jets weren’t biting, and we didn’t see much of Keller in 2012. He had nagging injuries that kept him out of 8 games in 2012, limiting him to 28 catches.

Now the Jets have a new offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg. As we have been discussing over the last several days, Marty brings with him a version of the West Coast offense. The question is, does the new system increase Dustin’s chance of staying with the Jets? To answer that, as we have been doing, let’s look at some numbers, using his best year, 2011, courtesy of Pro Football Focus as always.

As we have said, this offense needs guys that can make the catch in stride and go. Yards after the catch, or YAC, are of the utmost importance to making the system work. Guys that have been successful have been Brent Celek, working with Mornhinweg himself, Bubba Franks, and go back further you have Brent Jones, and Russ Francis, among others. Guys who are slow, making the catch and basically falling down do not help. Let’s talk about Keller in this regard. In 2011, Dustin Keller averaged 4.9 YAC/Reception. To put it into context, the aforementioned Brent Celek averaged 8 YAC/Reception. Rob Gronkowski averaged 7.1. Not a plus for Keller here.

Receivers have to be reliable in this system. They have to have good hands, and be trustworthy when the ball is thrown their way. In 69 catchable balls thrown his way, Keller was actually among the best in terms of drop rate, with a 5.8% drop rate. The previously mentioned Celek and Gronkowski both had drop percentages of over 8 percent. In balls he could get his hands on, Dustin Keller is quite reliable.

However, take a look at this stat, which is very interesting. Dustin Keller was thrown at a total of 109 times in 2011, putting him in the top 10. However, his percentage caught was a mere 59.6%, which didn’t even qualify him in the top 50 tight ends in the league, or even the best on his team. What does this tell us? Well, for one it indicates he is not the most fleet of foot. There are a heck a lot of passes he is not getting to. It also is an indictment of Mark Sanchez’s accuracy. 109 times, Keller was thrown to, and only 69 were catchable? That is not only a problem with Keller, it’s also Mark not throwing catchable passes Dustin’s way.

So, what’s the verdict on Dustin? It’s a little bit of a hedge, but not too bad. If Mornhinweg and now QB coach David Lee can improve Mark’s accuracy, Dustin would be an asset. But the numbers don’t lie, probably not a big enough asset that they need to open their wallets for.

Do you guys agree? Feel free to comment below……