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New York Jets Friday Spotlight: Jeremy Kerley

Can Jeremy Kerley change from invisible to invincible on Monday Night?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Friday Spotlight.  Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week.  Today's player in the spotlight is Jeremy Kerley.

Kerley, a 5' 9", 189 pound, 26 year old wide receiver out of Texas Christian University, was drafted by the Jets with the 153rd overall pick in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft.  Kerley became the Jets starting slot receiver less than halfway into his rookie season and has held that position ever since.  In year two Kerley took advantage of multiple injuries to Jets receivers to emerge as the Jets leading receiver with 827 yards and two touchdowns.  With the acquisition of Eric Decker and Percy Harvin and the drafting of Jace Amaro, Kerley has been something of a forgotten man in the Jets 2014 offense with only 26 catches for 237 yards and a touchdown.   The Jets recently signed Kerley to a four year contact extension, making Kerley the 43rd highest paid wide receiver in the NFL and keeping him under contract with the Jets through the 2018 season.

Here are Jeremy Kerley's NFL statistics:
































Jeremy Kerley is a decent slot receiver who has only adequate speed but excellent lateral quickness and a good ability to find open spots in a zone defense.  He is small but has good hands and does well for his size fighting for contested balls.  Unfortunately for Kerley and the Jets, this has been a disappointing year, and since Percy Harvin arrived Kerley has been all but invisible.

Monday night under the lights in prime time against divisional rival Buffalo would be a good time for Kerley to break out with a big performance.   Leodis McKelvin, Buffao's best cornerback, has just been placed on injured reserve, so Kerley will be covered mostly by the Bills' 4th best cornerback.  Kerley has done damage against the divisional opponents in the past, with 64 receptions for 897 yards, four touchdowns and a 14+ yards per reception average in 16 games, all marks far in excess of his career averages.  Kerley also has done well on Mondays, with 20 receptions for 272 yards and two touchdowns in five Monday Night games, and he has done well indoors, with eight receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown in two games in domed stadiums.  All these  numbers are well in excess of Kerley's career averages, and although they all involve sample sizes too small to be particularly meaningful, perhaps they will foreshadow a badly needed breakout performance from Kerley on Monday.  With the Bills' best cornerback sidelined and the second and third cornerbacks preoccupied with Harvin and Decker, there is an opportunity here for Kerley to do some damage.

With an indoor game the Jets' advantage in the running game becomes a bit less important as the passing becomes easier.   If the Jets are to win this game, they are probably going to need to get the passing attack going more than the anemic totals of the last couple of weeks.   Getting the passing game going will not only lead to more scoring, it will free up some running lanes when the Bills can no longer sell out to stop the run.  Then Chris Ivory and friends can do their thing and the Jets can trample the Bills' suddenly struggling run defense.   It all starts with making the opponent pay for selling out against the run.  With a favorable matchup against the Bills' fourth best cornerback, perhaps Jeremy Kerley can dust off the cobwebs and pull out a perfomance reminiscent of his 2012 breakout year.

Three weeks ago the Bills came to MetLife Stadium and blew out the Jets.  While the same could happen again on Monday, the Jets should be better equipped to win this time around. Turnover machine Geno Smith has been replaced with a suddenly turnover free Michael Vick.  Percy Harvin has had a few games and a bye week to get comfortable in  the offense.  Eric Decker is finally feeling fully healthy.  The Jets may have a safety in Jarrett capable of not completely embarrassing himself in the passing game.  The Bills are suddenly falling apart in their run defense.  The Bills have lost their best cornerback for the season.  The Bills have been unable to practice all week.  All these factors combine to make this game look like it should be a lot closer than the game a few weeks ago.  If the Jets are to build on their surprise win over the Steelers and string together two straight victories for the first time since the 2013 season Jeremy Kerley could prove to be a surprise key to winning.

Jeremy Kerley has been a forgotten man this season.  But the stars may be aligned for a breakout performance.  On Monday night, indoors, against a divisional opponent, facing a #4 cornerback, Kerley just might surprise everyone this week.  It's time for Jeremy Kerley to earn his newly minted millions.  It's time for him to break out and remind Jets fans he can be a pretty dangerous receiver on occasion.  If Kerley can dominate his matchup the Jets passing attack stands a good chance of making the Bills pay if they try and sell out against the run.  The Jets can then pound the ball with Ivory and company against a softened up, struggling Bills run defense. This is Jeremy Kerley's time in the spotlight.  Let's hope he shines come Monday night.