Dee Milliner had an up and down rookie campaign. We saw Milliner get beaten a drum for three quarters of the season, and then, partially due to the influence of Ed Reed, Milliner came on like gang busters. He looked like all of the shutdown cornerback we were waiting for. Did the first season intimidate him. Rex was posted that question and here is what he had to say:
See I don’t know. I think when rookies come in this league, maybe everybody’s humbled. I don’t know who as a rookie has come in and just played at this level, right from the get go. There’s a lot of growing pains (that) come with it when you’re rookie, especially at that position. It’s the skill level and in this league, separation is like this (close). Where in college, you’re not going to throw to me. If I’ve got this kind of coverage he’s not throwing. Well in the NFL, they’re throwing that ball. So, there’s always those kind of adjustments that go with it. What Dee is, Dee played every game. You know what I’m saying. And when he was healthy he played every game. He started every game and so, what we notice, (people) criticize Dee because I benched him. I’ve benched great players before in the past. Chris McAlister was a great player. I’ve benched them all at one point or another, because sometimes they need to sit down and take a look and then you put them back out there. But, what I notice from him is he grew and as the season went on he knew he could play in this league. That’s another reason why he did this (improved). At the end of the season he was playing, I don’t know if you say as good as it gets, but close to it. He set a record of PBUs. He broke up more passes in one game than any Jet in the history of the franchise. Had a couple of picks I think the last game or whatever it was, you guys know. So, I love the way he ended, but there’s guys that never get on a field and nobody talks about them. Did he go through growing pains? Absolutely, but he was in the fire. So, right now it’s nothing to him. He’s out there, let’s go. And his teammates, believe me, they’re definitely confident in Dee Milliner.
Coach was asked about why he feels that Milliner is ready to be a number one cornerback:
I’ve been around the game a few years and I see it without question. I know he got beat on a deep ball. Today, he got beat on a 3rd-and-eight, did you guys see that? We’re in cover three, that’s not his responsibility. Just so everybody’s aware of it he’s playing the two-to-one read by the way. (It’s a) technical term. I was getting on him though because I want him to disguise a little bit better, because I know it’s a tough stretch. You play like that, you’re going to get an out route, so you might as well just jump it. I told him before the play happened and sure enough they ran an out (route) first down. But, that’s not his responsibility. Sometimes when you see it, you think, “Oh, that’s it.” No, he’s on top. He was right where he’s supposed to be. But, Dee’s a guy that I have, as you guys know, I have a ton of confidence in.
If the last portion of 2013 was any indication, Milliner is more than ready to take the league by storm.