Things just keep getting worse for the New York Jets in the secondary. They rank a disappointing 12th in the NFL in pass defense, after finishing in the top 6 in each of Rex Ryan’s first four seasons in New York. Their top three cornerbacks are all banged up, and they were just torched by Ben Roethlisberger in Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The level of play in the secondary has been the clear Achilles’ heel for the Jets, and now they must face Tom Brady and Drew Brees in two of the next three weeks. Antonio Cromartie is less than 100% with his knee injury, and the Jets lost Kyle Wilson to a head injury Sunday (they haven’t called it a concussion yet), leaving him questionable for their upcoming game with New England Patriots.
It is for these reasons that the Jets badly need rookie Dee Milliner to return from his hamstring injury this week. Milliner has missed the last three games with the injury, and he was off to a rough start on the field before he was hurt. However, the Jets need everyone they can get at cornerback this week.
The Patriots have slowly been rounding their passing attack into form, and Brady is developing a comfort level with his new receivers. Danny Amendola may be out again this week, but Kenbrell Thompkins has progressed nicely and Rob Gronkowski could make his long awaited return. As much as Milliner has struggled, the Jets still need him, especially if Wilson is out.
Milliner was the 9th overall pick in April, but he has dealt with multiple injuries in his brief career, and he has clearly struggled with the speed and physicality of NFL receivers. The Jets knew there would be an adjustment period, but they were hoping that Milliner would quickly become a solid starter.
Hopefully sitting out the last three games has given him time to study and learn, and he should have a better understanding of NFL offenses. He still needs more reps to adjust, but the Jets have no choice but to throw him back into the fire. The Jets need improved cornerback play starting Sunday, and a healthy Milliner is crucial to that goal.