Dee Milliner had a rough rookie season in 2013. Even using the standards by which rookie cornerbacks usually struggle, Milliner's rookie season was not great. There was a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, a strong last two weeks during which he recorded 3 interceptions. He gave up 113 yards against Cleveland, but he held Josh Gordon under his average during Gordon's monster year. The next week against the Dolphins, Milliner was a Ryan Tannehill missed pass to Mike Wallace after Wallace had beaten Milliner away from another 100 yard game, 2 touchdown game, but Milliner had a pair of picks.
The hope was Milliner could carry his relatively strong finish over into 2014. It was not meant to be. Milliner spent most of 2014 injured. He suffered a high ankle sprain after the first preseason game. He returned in Week 2 against Green Bay. He was torched mainly by Jordy Nelson for 136 yards and a touchdown. Dee then missed two more games before returning against San Diego.The Chargers never really tested him as Philip Rivers was having success all day going after other corners. There were windows for Rivers to deliver the ball against Milliner. He didn't take them. The next week, Milliner tore his Achilles on a noncontact special teams injury.
I think we have reached the point where the Jets cannot expect to count on Milliner. Not only are the early returns not promising, he is now recovering from a serious injury. One of the big mistakes the Jets made last offseason was not bringing in a cornerback superior to Dimitri Patterson. There were many reasons this was a mistake. One of the big reasons was the onus this put on Milliner. The Jets needed him to become a star overnight and be capable of shutting down the top receiver on the other team. It would have been one thing to ask Milliner to develop into a quality starter in his second season. Even that was not guaranteed. The Jets counting on Milliner to go from one of the least effective starters in the league into a star was a poor gamble.
The Jets really need to prioritize upgrading the secondary this year. I think this means looking to add two starting corners. Is it conceivable Milliner will develop into a quality player after these two rough seasons? It does happen sometimes at cornerback. Is it possible his last two games in 2013 were a sign of legitimate growth, and his poor game in Green Bay was just due to a lingering injury? It is. These just are not the most likely scenarios. If the Jets add two corners, and Milliner blossoms there is no law that he has to be kept off the field. Having a lot of quality corners would be a really good thing. What this team should not do is go into a season counting on a struggling young player to suddenly make a massive improvement. This approach has burned the Jets too many times through the years. At the very least, Milliner's tendency to suffer injuries and his lack of physicality in the NFL to this point are major concerns.