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Jets benched Milliner to keep Pats from crushing his spirit

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The Jets gave first-round pick Dee Milliner a starting job from the moment he walked in the door.

Then they took it away from him, because they’re hoping he is able to get it back and keep it for the long haul.

Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman admitted they were afraid the Patriots were going to target the rookie cornerback before he was pulled last Thursday, and that there were concerns about what that would do to his confidence.

“With Dee, it wasn’t that we were unhappy with what we were seeing. It’s just that the situation for us called for, OK, they’re getting ready to take some shots at this kid,” Thurman said, via Michael Fensom of the Newark Star-Ledger. “Rather than have him in a situation where he can get himself deflated, we decided to make the move and get a more experienced guy in there. And we did. We felt like it was the right thing to do.

“We’re not down on him at all. He’s got a chance to be a hell of a football player. And we don’t want a rookie to go out there and get shell-shocked and not be able to come back. And we were concerned about that.”

The Jets may have made that mistake in the past with Kyle Wilson, who was thrown into the deep end while he was still learning to dog-paddle in the NFL.

“You learn from your experiences, Thurman said. “Young corners, young nickels, when they’re out there they become big targets. And you get an experienced offensive coordinator, like they have in New England, with an experienced quarterback, they’re not dumb. They’re looking to score points.

“In any situation like that, you expect a guy to go out and perform, but if you see an opportunity to make sure his confidence doesn’t get shattered and he’s gotta fight back — if we can ward that off we’re gonna do that.”

Now the responsibility is on Milliner learning and growing from it. They’re going to continue to use him, even if he’s not starting. But at some point, the training wheels have to come off.

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39 Responses to “Jets benched Milliner to keep Pats from crushing his spirit”
  1. nice2meetumarco says: Sep 20, 2013 8:49 AM

    Only the jets would bench a player as a confidence booster.

  2. millerhour says: Sep 20, 2013 8:53 AM

    NEVER go public with something like this.

  3. thekiy says: Sep 20, 2013 8:55 AM

    Showing no faith in the kids ability is better for his morale how?

  4. steelerdynasty2010 says: Sep 20, 2013 8:59 AM

    and so you thought that by making this public, you’d help his confidence?

  5. johnnyjagfan says: Sep 20, 2013 9:05 AM

    He’s a rookie. Good coaching decision.

  6. unrulyondamic says: Sep 20, 2013 9:05 AM

    I thought playing against the best was supposed to make you better?

  7. eustus says: Sep 20, 2013 9:13 AM

    So, what is it going to do for his confidence that his coordinator is telling the whole world that he was hiding behind Mommy’s skirt?

  8. CKL says: Sep 20, 2013 9:16 AM

    Ummm…what? The Pats offense was terrible against the Jets. Yes the Jets defense had something to do with that, but I would think a kid would tend to lose confidence more against a good offense than my team’s, which isn’t close to good yet. Did Thurman time warp back to last year or something? 😀

  9. ridingwithnohandlebars says: Sep 20, 2013 9:20 AM

    That is such a Jets thing to do.

  10. ccjcsr says: Sep 20, 2013 9:23 AM

    What is this youth football?


  11. buddysguys says: Sep 20, 2013 9:23 AM

    he stinks

  12. dogman9 says: Sep 20, 2013 9:25 AM

    No harm letting the young man watch a few games but then you need to get him out there.

    Jets aren’t going anywhere this year anyway…

  13. kenstabler says: Sep 20, 2013 9:26 AM

    I don’t understand this thinking at all. If you gave the kid the starting position the games before, let him start. Are the Jets just totally afraid of the Patriots? Every offensive coordinator in the NFL is good and will target a rookie CB until he shows on film he is good. Great corners get burnt and get right back up and make a great play the next snap.

    You don’t learn that sitting on the bench.

  14. justintuckrule says: Sep 20, 2013 9:34 AM

    Sound reasoning that I totally agree with. Why not employ it with your rookie qb then?

  15. ras1tafari says: Sep 20, 2013 9:35 AM

    The headline to this story is beautiful, and represents everything I love about sports.

    When you’re a real winner, that’s how you play – to win. To crush the spirit and all hope of competition from your opponent. Jordan, Bird, Brady, Patton, Halsey, from sports to war to it’s all about spirit and the will to win.

  16. Obama's Ballsack says: Sep 20, 2013 9:35 AM

    If you get your spirit crushed from playing against UFA’s you don’t deserve to be a first round pick.

  17. 69finfan says: Sep 20, 2013 9:36 AM

    Ok, so the Jets didn’t want DM in a situation where he could get deflated so they took him out of the game. Isn’t that pretty deflating?

  18. dkid713 says: Sep 20, 2013 9:41 AM

    It happened to my Houston Texans with CB Kareem Jackson. His first rookie year he was totally thrown to the sharks. His play was horrible. My town was calling for his head!!! His confidence was murdered.

  19. 6ball says: Sep 20, 2013 9:42 AM


    Excellent coaching…… Many players have benefited from patience. Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers are examples.


  20. wwwmattcom says: Sep 20, 2013 9:46 AM

    Safe pick Dee Milliner everybody.

    Did the Bills still reach for EJ?

  21. hehateme2 says: Sep 20, 2013 9:48 AM

    Just being a jet is enough to crush anyone’s sprit…

  22. 49erstim says: Sep 20, 2013 9:48 AM

    Wow. That is a startling admission. So they’re saying the kid isn’t emotionally mature enough to handle the job? That speaks volumes to me.

  23. wewantmoretebowandfavrearticles says: Sep 20, 2013 9:52 AM

    DBs absolutely cannot screw up on a play. If Milliner’s confidence wasn’t there or he just wasn’t producing, then Rex needed to put someone out there that could cover. Considering the way the Jets D played, it’s hard to criticize the decision. Justifying it this way to the media though seems like a recipe for trouble though.

  24. bspurloc says: Sep 20, 2013 9:53 AM

    and how they deflated sanchize yelling in his face till he became useless….

  25. conner87 says: Sep 20, 2013 9:58 AM

    How is the kid going to learn if he doesn’t have a chance to try?

  26. mccourty1sland says: Sep 20, 2013 10:14 AM

    I don’t know how much spirit crushing the pats were goin to do Thursday…. Coming from a pats fan.

  27. 1heatedtoombrayduh says: Sep 20, 2013 10:15 AM

    Isnt it MORE deflating to have your coach sit you because he doesnt think your confidence is strong enough. and then he tells the media about it lol wow. yeah THAT wont hurt his confidence

  28. wikidpissah says: Sep 20, 2013 10:19 AM

    Makes sense, but it would be more credible if they had sat him for the game, rather than pull him after he got beat on a play action pass that resulted in the easiest touchdown of the year, by another rookie, catching his first NFL pass.

  29. j0esixpack says: Sep 20, 2013 10:31 AM

    Only on the Jets would benching a guy improve his self esteem

  30. bucrightoff says: Sep 20, 2013 10:47 AM

    How insulting is that to Josh Freeman? He’ll let Milliner start against the Bucs and their much better receivers, but against the Patriots and the no names they had playing last week, he wants to protect Milliner.

    Brady is a HOFer. Freeman is a backup.

  31. wikidpissah says: Sep 20, 2013 10:49 AM

    6ball says: Sep 20, 2013 9:42 AM

    Many players have benefited from patience. Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers are examples.


    Good point, bad examples. Brady and Rogers were development projects playing behind established starters. What the Jets did was the equivalent of starting Brady and Rogers in game one, then benching them during game 2 after a first quarter interception thrown to an established cornerback.

  32. mpops86 says: Sep 20, 2013 11:20 AM

    I remember that Kyle Wilson game. Beat like a rented mule for 60 minutes.

    Still, this guy is gonna take his lumps sooner or later. If he’s as good as advertised, he would have been out there. Rex held him out because he wanted to field his A squad to beat the Pats and keep his job, now he’s backpedaling and making excuses.

  33. threefeetaway says: Sep 20, 2013 12:23 PM

    This must be why they didn’t play Tebow, he was great but they just didn’t want to mess with his confidence lol

  34. jetsjetsjetsnow says: Sep 20, 2013 12:27 PM

    This should have been kept internal! Its totally unecessary to share this info! Thurman should stop running his mouth & focus on coaching!!

  35. realfootballfan says: Sep 20, 2013 12:43 PM

    Another disappointing Alabama defensive player.

  36. stabbymike says: Sep 20, 2013 12:54 PM

    so to not ruin a players confidence, they bench him, pretty much saying you will suck if we dont, and them go public with it? ah the jets.

  37. zombiepatriot says: Sep 20, 2013 1:49 PM

    Is it not better to see what he can do and if he gets beat a couple of times use it as a teaching experience? Seems to me you have to learn at some point and the best way is trial by error. Especially in a league where you don’t only get the learning experience during the game but also a ton of film to review where every little tendency can be dissected with a goal of correcting the error.

    Also, as a Patriots fan maybe I was watching the wrong game because you only needed one defensive back to cover Edelman as whenever the ball was thrown to any once else I could picture John Madden saying; “That just doinked off his hands.”

  38. jetsareajoke says: Sep 20, 2013 4:50 PM

    They should have benched geno too. Looked like he lost his confidence in the fourth quarter with all the sacks and INTs.

  39. enzo1030 says: Sep 20, 2013 7:04 PM

    Who cares? “You play to win the game.” Walls did a better job relieving Milliner. Keep DM in and the Pats could have put up a much bigger score, in which the Jets would have had NO shot to win the game.

    Good coaching decision in my opinion.

    People cried that Rex baby’d Sanchez, and now that he’s being “critical” of his players, its bad?

    Rex can’t win with you guys…

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