Mark Sanchez Should Look for Jerricho Cotchery Over Dustin Keller Down the Middle

FOXBORO MA - JANUARY 16: Jerricho Cotchery #89 of the New York Jets tries to avoid the tackle of Pat Chung #25 and Gary Guyton #59 of the New England Patriots during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16 2011 in Foxboro Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Normally I encourage the Jets to focus on Dustin Keller in the passing game for the mismatches he creates. Not many teams have linebackers that can cover him. If he is covered by linebackers, he can win a matchup. If a team covers him with a safety, that safety cannot help deep on Braylon Edwards, creating a mismatch outside. If a team puts an extra defensive back to deal with Keller, the Jets get an extra boost for an already excellent run game.

The Steelers are an exception. They do have an athletic linebacker, Lawrence Timmons, who can hang with Keller. Dustin was targeted 5 times in the first meeting and held to 3 catches for 19 yards. Pittsburgh gave up the sixth fewest yards per game to opposing tight ends in the league during the regular season.

When the Jets look over the middle, Jerricho Cotchery will present a more favorable matchup. Jerricho enters red hot off his huge game in New England. They gave up the ninth most yards in the league against wide receivers third and lower on opposing depth charts. Nickel corner William Gay has had issues just as Bryant McFadden has in coverage.

Part of the great thing about Mike Tannebaum adding so many weapons is the ability to create mismatches all across the field where an opponent is weak. Where they are relatively strong in one spot, there is another place to exploit. Keller can win matchups against Timmons, but there is a better one to exploit. When Sanchez goes through his progressions, this would be one week to look to the slot man instead of the tight end.

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