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Keller at the Crest of the Offensive Wave


In recent weeks there has been a resurgence by some key members of the Jets offense, giving the Chargers defense more to think about as they prepare for the teams' AFC Divisional Game on Sunday.

"In consecutive weeks you got to see Brad [Smith] on offense do his thing, then you got to see Dustin [Keller] take off and do his thing, and then you know the type of player we have in Braylon [Edwards]. And I'm trying to make plays myself," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery told "Obviously, Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene have stepped up. Now you look at that as a whole and you say, 'Man, these guys are loaded.' "

The most recent major contributors in the AFC Wild Card Game were Greene, Mark Sanchez, who had his most efficient game as a pro with 12-for-15 passing for 182 yards and a touchdown, and second-year TE Keller, who caught that TD and had three catches for 99 yards in all.

Not bad for several youngsters in their first career playoff contest.

"It's very tough because initially you have to be able to stop the run because that's what we do best," said Keller. "Mark rolls out and everybody knows that he's one of the best passers on the run. As long as he's doing that well and we're running the ball well, it's going to be really tough to stop us."

Several of Sanchez's passes last week were on rollouts and run fakes, with the defense stacking up the box to stop the run.

"I think to be able to do some of that play-action stuff and get those big plays, they have to play both sides a little bit more," said Keller. "They may not take all those guys out of the box but they can't play it like they have been, otherwise we'll kill them with the pass. You have to keep them honest."

The Jets have showed that big-play ability through the air in flashes this season with big receptions by Braylon Edwards, Cotchery, David Clowney and even Danny Woodhead. Last week it was Keller's turn.

Normally a rookie QB's security blanket is his TE, but No. 6 and No. 81 hadn't been able to connect as often as hoped this season as Keller's catches dropped from 48 in his rookie season of '08 to 45 this year.

But with the playoffs began a whole new season and if Sanchez just began his "second year," according to head coach Rex Ryan, than Keller said he's just now starting his third.

The Purdue product caught two passes from Sanchez last weekend and took one the distance for the 45-yard TD while the other went 43 yards to set up Jay Feely's late field goal. Keller became the first Jets TE in at least 20 years to have two 40-yard receptions in a game.

"It was the offensive line and running backs selling the fakes so well that it left me wide open. They do a great job of that," he said. "They started just putting a whole bunch of people in the box, eight or nine guys, and it's almost impossible to run against that."

Although the Jets are the best in the NFL this season at running the ball, of course they have to pass sometimes, and they have some great receivers to get the job done.

Cotchery had six catches for 67 yards last week, while Braylon Edwards had two for 15 yards. But Ryan feels that Edwards, who's had some big games in his career, will have a "huge game" before their run is over.

"If you don't open things up in the pass, then you're going to kill yourself offensively," said Keller. "Now that they've seen that we can do something on play action, that's going to make things a little bit easier and take a little more pressure off the running game."

That ground game will still keep churning. With the big gains from Smith out of the "Tiger Cat" in the Week 17 Bengals game, and with Greene's recent surge, it seems that the Jets offense has just scraped the surface of its potential.

"We're very confident," said Greene. "We want to keep that train rolling. Everybody is up-tempo and upbeat. Everybody in film study is doing a great job. We just want to keep riding the wave."

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