What Dustin Keller Brings To The Miami Dolphins


Jul 22, 2013; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller (81) catches a pass in front of linebacker Jonathan Freeny during training camp at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

A seam threat Tight-end is something the Miami Dolphins have been missing for years. That may be exactly what they have found in former New York Jet TE, Dustin Keller.  For those who do not know, the “seam” is the space between the CB and safety  and can also be called the “hole in the zone”.  Get the ball to your TE here and you can do some real damage.

I’m talking chunk yardage, big play capability, momentum shifts!  Can you feel me?  Think of all those highlights you’ve seen from players like Rob Gronkwoski, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, and Vernon Davis.  That’s what can happen when your QB gets the ball into the hands of a big, athletic, pass-catching TE like Dustin Keller who can run full speed down the, you guessed it…SEAM!

…And that is what he can bring to the Miami Dolphins.

An example that comes to mind happened in week 2 of the 2009 season on a Monday night.  The Dolphins were playing the Colts in Miami, first play from scrimmage Peyton Manning hits Dallas Clark in stride, down the seam.  80 yards later Clark is in for a touchdown.  The crowd is silenced.  Gibril Wilson is run over and I’m still not over it…horrible.  Over the years, the Miami Dolphins have been on the receiving end of these big play TE seam routes and it has often made a difference in the outcome.

While Anthony Fasano was a solid all around TE, he lacked the up-field speed to fully take advantage of this area of the field.  The Dolphins allowed him to leave VIA free agency and turned to filling this role with Keller.  A former first round draft pick of the New York Jets, Keller improved his draft stock with an outstanding 2008 NFL Combine and translated his draft stock into solid play for the Jets as he became a favorite target of Jets QB Mark Sanchez.

In Miami, Keller will give the Dolphins a legit seam threat TE that was missing last season in their new West Coast offense that relies heavily on the TE position.  In Green Bay, Joe Philbin who served as the Packers offensive coordinator used the TE’s as more than a “dump-off” route runner.  Aaron Rodgers found the TE’s as his go to receivers in the red-zone and short yardage situations and again in the aforementioned seam area of the field.

Keller brings more to the Dolphins than simply a seam threat.  Defenses will have to account for him.  His ability to get downfield and his ability to use his body to shield against defenders will keep defenses from stacking the line of scrimmage and will allow the Dolphins to get LB – RB match-up’s out of the back-field as the interior LB’ers will likely be drawn to cover the TE with over the top safety help leaving the underneath open for an H-back or slot receiver.  Over the past few seasons, Anthony Fasano was unable to draw that kind of coverage.

Keller will not be a deep threat in Miami but he doesn’t need to be.  He only needs to work the center of the field between the line of scrimmage and the 25 yard seam space into the safety void that should be vacated by Mike Wallace on the outside.  Ryan Tannehill should find Keller a viable option on almost every play and Keller should see an increase in touches in an offensive system that is built to cater to productive TE’s.

Dustin Keller may not be the perfect TE for the Dolphins but he comes pretty close to being the best TE the Dolphins have had in a very long time.