I try to be an optimistic when it comes to the New York Jets.
Under head coach Rex Ryan, the Jets have been relatively successful, compared to many of the other teams in the league. They haven’t reached their ultimate goal yet, which of course is a Super Bowl championship.
I’m pretty confident that Ryan will get there one day. He’s a terrific football coach and the Jets have a pretty good core to build upon going forward.
I hiring of ex-Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano as the new Jets offensive coordinator,and new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo should give the Jets some added toughness on offense in 2012.
The Jets offensive line had a down year by their standards in 2011, especially in pass protection, but they could certainly improve as a run-blocking unit as well.
To be truly dominant at the line of scrimmage, you ideally need at least one tight end who’s physical enough to take on blockers and give a good push at the point of attack.
Quite frankly, I don’t know if there’s a tight end on the Jets roster who’s capable of that.
I’m not enamored with Dustin Keller, the 2008 first-rounder who’s a pretty solid receiver but nothing special in my eyes.
Pro Football Focus rated him as the 7th worst run blocker in the NFL in 2011, and I shudder to think that there were actually six players worse than him.
When I watch Keller, I don’t see a guy who I trust to make a big play in a big spot. I don’t see a guy who’s particular tough, as a blocker or as a receiver.
I see a guy who seems to underwhelm me every time the ball is thrown his way. He’s got pretty good hands, but is he a gamebreaker that defenses have to plan around? Certainly not.
He’s not very explosive and he’s not a very good route-runner. He’s been one of Mark Sanchez’s top targets though, so that probably counts for something.
However, I imagine that if Keller returns to the team in 2012, it very much could be his last. He can be a free agent after the 2012 season if the Jets let him walk.
He’s more of a wide receiver than a tight end, and he’s only slightly above average, at best. Maybe fellow fans will disagree with me, but I just don’t see the toughness the Jets want coming from a guy like Keller.
I hesitate to call anybody “soft,” but I don’t know what you call a tight end who can’t block and seems to disappear after he takes one big hit.
The Jets have a bunch of holes they need to fill on both sides of the ball, and upgrading the tight end spot is on the backburner for now. But it’s only a matter of time, in my opinion.
If the Jets don’t see a marked improvement from Keller, especially as a blocker, in 2012, he very much could be suiting up elsewhere sooner rather than later. I won’t miss him.