The Jets have one competition keeping them busy enough this summer, so they cut another one short and made ninth overall pick Dee Milliner the starting cornerback without much of a battle.
If there were a competition, Saturday night’s performance against the Jaguars would have been a plus for the other guy. Milliner had a rough time of it while covering Justin Blackmon and Blaine Gabbert threw his way often during a pair of scoring drives in the first quarter. Watching the game, it appeared that Milliner was giving receivers too much of a cushion in man coverage and coach Rex Ryan confirmed that he didn’t like the rookie’s approach against the Jags.
“I didn’t like the way we competed and challenged on the outside — not so much [Antonio] Cromartie, but from Dee,” Ryan said, via Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com. “When we call on him, I want him to get up there. Let’s go. Let’s play.”
Cromartie echoed the coach’s sentiments by focusing on the tests coming up for Milliner as a starting cornerback.
“For him it’s a learning experience,” Cromartie said. “For this game, it’s the second preseason game for him and we expect more from him than we saw tonight. That’s something that he needs to learn from and he has to come out with a great attitude and get ready for the next week when we get ready to play guys like Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. When we come to Week One, we have to play two of the best receivers in the NFL with Vincent Jackson and also Mike Williams.”
The Jets have been wise to run away from comparisons between Milliner and Darrelle Revis because there’s very little chance that Milliner comes out looking good in comparisons to one of the best corners in recent history. Those comparisons will still get made, but all that matters for the Jets is that Milliner’s capable of handling a starting job now and shows signs of that he can be more than capable as his career progresses. Being better against the Giants than he was against the Jaguars would work on both counts.