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Keller on the Offense: ‘It’s a Whole Team Thing’

Posted by Eric Allen on August 18, 2011 – 1:10 pm

Dustin Keller and the Jets’ tight ends have had a quiet camp.

It’s not like they haven’t played well, but the storylines on offense have focused on Mark Sanchez’s continued emergence as a leader, the Big Ten Trio otherwise known as Holmes, Mason and Plax, Shonn Greene’s promotion to the workhorse role in the backfield, and injuries/depth along the offensive line.

“We don’t mind being the silent killers,” DK told newyorkjets.com this week. “Whoever’s getting publicity — we’re not worried about that. It’s a whole team thing. As long as we’re going out there and winning, we just want to make sure we’re doing our part. I think we’re more than capable of doing that.”

Keller, a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses with his size/speed combo, led the Jets in catches last season with 55. Ben Hartsock, a 6’4”, 270-pounder who was the Green & White’s No. 2 tight end in 2010, departed in free agency and inked a deal with the Carolina Panthers. Known almost entirely for his blocking skills, Hartsock totaled two receptions in his two seasons with New York’s AFC representative.

Despite the Hartsock departure, the Jets feel good about their tight ends. Matt Mulligan, a third-year veteran, is a grinder who can help in the run game and on special teams. And Jeff Cumberland, a second-year player who played mostly wideout at Illinois, flashed his receiving skills against the Texans with team highs of six catches and 77 receiving yards.

“He did a great job, he definitely did his thing,” Keller said. “It just shows that we’re going to be able to do a lot of two-tight-end stuff this whole entire year and it will always keep the defense guessing. It just gives us another weapon.”

The 6’4”, 260-pound Cumberland has been more effective as a blocker than he was a year ago in Cortland, so that only bodes well for more playing time. While the Jets starters (minus C Nick Mangold, G Brandon Moore and WR Plaxico Burress) didn’t score in their only trip inside the 20 on Monday night, Keller anticipates better red zone efficiency in 2011.

“With some of the pickups we got — especially Plax being a big receiver — I think it’s going to be huge for us,” he said. “You’ll definitely see increased production there.”

The Jets also brought in Tom Moore as a consultant and Keller has enjoyed his time with the wise former Colts offensive coordinator.

“He’s been huge for me because he’s been giving me the ins and outs, things to look at and how to recognize this and that,” Keller said. “He’s been a great guy for me to have here.”

Moore experienced tremendous success in America’s Heartland with Peyton Manning at the controls as they often found a way to get the ball into the hands of TE Dallas Clark.

“I haven’t looked at any of his tape,” Keller said of Clark. “It’s been more so that I’ve looked at my old tape with [Moore] and he’s told me what he likes, what he thinks I should correct and what to look for.”

While Clark was injured last season and limited to just six games, he caught 100 balls and had 10 receiving TDs two years ago. It’s safe to say Keller probably won’t get triple digits anytime soon because of the Jets’ balance and he is looking forward to seeing the Ground & Pound in action once again.

“I think it keeps us well-rounded,” he said. “Some guys can go in there and give Shonn some relief and give him a little bit of a break because we’re three, four deep at that position. It’s going to be exciting to see how it plays out.”

Rex Ryan has said the Jets will let it fly some more in the fall and Keller thinks the sky’s the limit for his attention-grabbing quarterback.

“He’s done a great job, great decision making and a great leader so far,” DK said of Sanchez. “I think he just gets better and better as time goes on.”

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Posted in Eric Allen | 26 Comments »

26 Responses to “Keller on the Offense: ‘It’s a Whole Team Thing’”

  1. By ThatGuyShaun on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    The two tight end sets that the AFC East needs to see, that doesn’t involve Hernandez and Gronkowski. Keller and Cumberland. Do it!

  2. By wayne on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    Well scjoe, as an “expert”, I saw a coach feeling the pressure already before real games start…………It’s the first semi game after only 2wks in a makeshift training camp. What did he expect? That everything would be perfect? Please…..He’d better be feeling the pressure because he’s gonna earn his pay this year…It will also cement for him why keeping your mouth buttoned isn’t saying you don’t believe in your players, it’s being prudent. It’s comporting yourself like a grownup. conducting yourself in a manner that would be good for the young men you’re leading to emulate…………………Or he could go out and get another tatoo with his young players.

  3. By Ed in Tucson on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    “He’s done a great job, great decision making and a great leader so far,” DK said of Sanchez. “I think he just gets better and better as time goes on.”

    I hope he’s right & MS will raise his completion % this season. I’d like to see what McElroy can do with the 1st string O. That kid doesn’t seem to have the accuracy problems that MS has had the past 2 seasons.

  4. By Hassan on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    There is no reason why the Jets can’t deploy a two TE set this season. In fact, I think the Jets passing attack will be most potent when plax, holmes are @ WR, keller, cumberland are @ TE on the field at the same time.

    Cumberland will be a revelation for the Jets this season and it will certainly put Keller on the hot seat for his next contract extension.

  5. By steven on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    Why not put cumberland, mulligan, keller and plax on the goal line plays. With four 6’5 recievers in the red zone, how could they be stopped? If you just sent them into the same area and threw it up as a jump ball, one of our guys would come down with it. Done Deal! What’s the Problem with the Red Zone?

  6. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    Good point on McElroy’s accuracy, Ed, I’m amazed that more people haven’t commented on that. I also don’t get how Cumberland could be the Player of the Game when McElroy, a rookie in his first pro game ever, threw all those passes to him. And say what you want about his long-ball ability, which of course the Jets will work on, but that 48-yard TD pass that Campbell dropped was exactly where it needed to be and McElroy kind of threw it on the run.

  7. By russ on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    best all round tight end since 80’s..Good luck Cimberland..

  8. By IRA on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    EA, Keller is going to finally be a 70 catch guy and make the Pro Bowl. And we all saw what Cumberland is capable of doing. These two should make things very difficult for other teams to defend especially with Holmes, Mason, and Plax in the mix.
    There is NO reason why the Jets should not improve in their redzone %. The threat of a passing game in the redzone will open up more room for Greene and the others to punch it in.
    GO JETS!!!!

  9. By Gabriel on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    Redzone shouldn’t be a problem for the jets with plaxico has the big tall reciever and having shonn greene plow it into the endzone with john connor leading the way. plus DK could be a big great target for sanchez to throw it to in the endzone. I’m looking forward to him Airing it out more often, I’m sure Jet Fans would like that. What we want the most is a super bowl title!

  10. By GaryC on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    It is funny that people are now wanting the jets with a two tightend set,when at draft time it seemed like me and uncle joe were the only ones screaming to draft rudolph of notre dame and I was adamant about signing Zach Miller when he was available,time will tell if Burress and Mason last the year without injury. Wayne,a least someone has a clear thought on the lunacy Rex showed with his temper tantrum.when do antics like these start to wear on the team.

  11. By 38 year fan on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    I like the talk of two tight ends in there ,..that is great …Especially with red zone situations ,. and Goal Line . …We could have done this 2 years ago …I always thought an interesting offense was Warren Moons “Run and Shoot ” where they would have alot of Flood Outs , with 4 and 5 wide recievers …you can’t cover everyone ..It makes it easier on the QB to find a target that’s open …they could mix that in ..

  12. By 38 year fan on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    We could have taken Gronkowski in the draft….he was right there …we took another corner

  13. By 38 year fan on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    Let the coach smash his head phones , it’s called venting ,… it’s healthy …he could smash a clipboard too if he wants ….

  14. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    We all know what the real problem in the red zone is, and it’s not the name of any player that you see on the field. But it is a name and it’s spelled S-C-H-O-T-T-Y.

  15. By Hans on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    38 year fan, that another corner you’re talking about is making deep strides in becoming way better than what we saw last year.

  16. By Hans on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    This year is gonna be a proving year for that man, Tom. If we have anymore problems like last year with playcalling, I really don’t believe he should be here anymore.

  17. By scjoe on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    Wayne, it is also called “frustration” regardless of whether it is the first preseason game or game 16 of the regular season. These are professionals! Paid professional type salaries and they practice certain aspects of the game over and over. How can a player not get off the field when his number is called in these sub packages when it is practiced so often? I know that and I am not an “expert”

  18. By scjoe on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply

    I would agree with Hassan that Cumberland “could be” a revelation this year, but to do that you need to be on the playing field! If his blocking was suspect last year and that is the reason he didn’t get much playing time, I would ask why he wasn’t in more often to spell Keller who is not exactly an all pro when it comes to blocking.

  19. By bass53 on Aug 19, 2011 | Reply

    last year i kept hearing bart scott talk about how athletic cumberland was.. how he has a second gear and blows by the coverage.. he doesn’t look as fast as hes going cause he is so big.. i watched Illinois film on him.. he made some very impressive catches.. the two tight end sets would be a great wrinkle into the offense especially the power running ,two more big bodies to pound on the secondary.. with the terminator in there i think the jets can just pound the hell outta defenses..which will open up underneath routes .. thats where keller an cumberland can an by all rights should gash the opposition…

  20. By russ on Aug 19, 2011 | Reply

    a two tight end set will stem the pass rush and be more effective in red zone

  21. By GaryC on Aug 19, 2011 | Reply

    one or more bad calls by shotty this year and history will repeat with another ryan going to the jugular of a offensive coordinator.

  22. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Aug 20, 2011 | Reply

    Well, we agree on that one, GaryC. Re scjoe’s point about NE racking up big points in the first two exhibition games, I think this yr if we can’t score big four or five games in Schotty could be gone, enough is enough. Rex is in his third year and he’s gonna start looking like a fool making excuses for this guy. I’d pay just to see Tom Moore standing on the sideline with the clipboard. I also don’t think it’s good for Rex or the team for Schotty Sr. to be hanging around as much as I’ve read he is, we have a head coach, we don’t need a faux-head coach.

  23. By GaryC on Aug 20, 2011 | Reply

    jet fan tom, you could of ridded yourself of all schottenheimers if you brought in Fassel like I had suggested.I wonder if the jets are paying all of these coaches who keep coming in to lend their expertise.maybe more investing in college scouting might help more.

  24. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Aug 20, 2011 | Reply

    Fassel woulda been fine with me, GaryC, though I like Moore’s pedigree well enough. Still, you make a damn good point about scouting. Maybe Schotty should be a scout instead of OC, he sure seems to have picked right with Kerley.

  25. By punchie on Aug 20, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Wayne go back to sipping lattes and cuppacinos at your local coffee house and leave football to PASSION loving , beer swilling , red meat eating MEN like me and rex

  26. By punchie on Aug 20, 2011 | Reply

    OH yehh wayne i dont see you leading 200 million dollars worth of athletes to the AFC championship game 2 years in a row “EXPERT” in your own lunchtime

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