With Milliner's performance sending him to the bench, reporters asked defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman this week whether or not the rookie would start this week against the Raiders. Thurman told the press that "yep" Milliner would be back in the starting lineup, but as to whether or not Milliner would be back to the bench by game's end?
“We’ll see ... you take away that one play in the game, and he actually played a really good game. But you can’t take that one play away,” Thurman explained. “It affects his overall performance. And it affects the overall perception of him. But really, he was playing well. He had pass breakups, he actually was tackling pretty well and he misses that one tackle and it goes for a touchdown.”
Thurman explained to reporters that by gauging Milliner's reaction it would be best to sit him the rest of the game.
“At that point, you’re looking for the reaction of the player,” Thurman recalled of the Milliner benching. “And there’s times where you look at him, you look in his eyes, you say, ‘You know what this is not a good look.’ And you say ‘Let’s make the move.’”
This has been a whole year of Milliner being behind the eight ball. From his pre-draft surgery impacting his offseason training schedule, to his late arrival at training camp, to his play this season the Jets ninth overall pick has had a bumpy season.
So far this season Milliner has missed three games due to injury and he's also been benched three times. Other players like Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster deserve the opportunity to play more snaps before the season ends, but maybe Thurman is onto something.
For some it might sound outlandish to think that Milliner 'played a good game' despite the benching. Milliner tallied his highest total of passes defensed (two) on the season and maybe more importantly he seemed in better position to defend passes.
While it wasn't always successful for Milliner at least he was in place and looking at the pass more regularly for what seemed like the first time this season. Milliner's season might be a wash, but I am going to isolate these last four games for Milliner against the rest of the season because I think we're going to see some better improvement in December than we've seen all season.