As the New York Jets enter the meat of their offseason, they face a few key decisions regarding existing players that could define the team's future directions. When making these decisions, John Idzik would be wise to value consistency and reliability over raw talent.
Mike DeVito and Dustin Keller are the perfect examples. Keller is an athletic marvel, an agile tight end who can be a very difficult cover for most linebackers and safeties. Meanwhile, DeVito has minimal stat sheet impact and rarely makes a highlight play.
Yet it is the steady DeVito to whom the Jets should make a long-term commitment, not the oft-injured Keller.
At his best, Keller has the potential to be an elite tight end in the NFL. But he has now played five seasons without coming close to that level, recording over 700 receiving yards only once in his career.
Keller's difficulties came to a head in 2012, when he notched 317 yards on 28 receptions while only appearing in eight games. The tight end's injury woes were one of the bigger factors affecting the Jets' overall offensive struggles.
One response to the Jets' 2012 season is to point out how much they need Keller, as the offense really did suffer when he was off the field. But that approach assumes that Keller will be reliably healthy going forward.
What the Jets should learn from 2012 is that they need a consistent player to fill Keller's role and that Keller unfortunately may not be that player.
For the New York Jets' defensive line, Mike DeVito is exactly that player. He doesn't possess the overall dominance of Muhammad Wilkerson or the tremendous athleticism of Quinton Coples, but DeVito complements these young players perfectly with his consistency against the run game.
DeVito doesn't have the headline stats, but interior defensive linemen aren't supposed to generate big headline stats. His job is to occupy blockers and clog running lanes, and DeVito has emerged as one of the better players in the league at doing just that.
DeVito's consistent play also provides the Jets with strong continuity on the defensive line, something that will be very valuable as the young bucks alongside him continue to improve.
The Jets head into the offseason with an offense in disarray and a defense that, aside from the linebacker core, is in pretty good shape. They would be best served applying a portion of their defensive philosophy to their offense and investing in reliable players, like DeVito, instead of less consistent players, like Keller, who may have bigger names and make flashier plays.