Posts Tagged ‘Dee Milliner’

Rex Ryan set to return next season as Jets knock off Dolphins in final game

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – On the heels of a feel-good, 20-7, win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Jets owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik ended weeks of speculation by announcing that Rex Ryan will return as head coach next season.

Saddled with rock-bottom expectations and the notion that he wouldn't be around much longer, Rex Ryan took the Jets to an 8-8 record in 2013 and will return next season, according to owner Woody Johnson.

“After five years of looking at Rex, it’s pretty obvious he’s a good coach,” Johnson told SNY after the game. “This is the start of something really big for the New York Jets.”

Idzik also broke his radio silence after the game, acknowledging that Ryan will return next season, although he would not comment on Ryan’s contract, which runs out at the end of 2014.

“It was a great feeling that we had. It started from day one with me,” said Idzik. “The feeling we had inside was that this was a pretty good pairing.”

The Jets aren’t playoff bound, finishing off at 8-8, but won back-to-back games for the first time all season, and relished the role of spoiler, knocking the Dolphins out of the postseason race.

In a season marked with struggles, the rookie class shined on the final day for the Jets, with Geno Smith, Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner all turning in great performances.

Smith played his second straight turnover-free game, passing for 190 yards and rushing for 44 yards and a touchdown. Milliner intercepted Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill twice, his second straight game with a pick, and Richardson scored his second touchdown of the season.

“We knew we were a better team than showed up against Miami [the last time], certainly,” Ryan said. “That was the main driving force of it, to show where we’re at.”

Ryan said he found about the Jets decision to bring him back before the start of the game, during warm-ups.

“I love being the head football coach of the New York Jets, plain and simple,” he said. “I didn’t want to go out this way.”

The announcement about Ryan’s future coupled with the win over Miami ends the season a high note, but there are still many questions for the team moving forward.

The biggest of which will be, can the team be good enough to make the playoffs next year? That answer is pretty clear, according to Richardson.

“Next year, baby, we’ll be in the playoffs.”

Rex Ryan defends struggling rookie class

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Rex Ryan went to bat for his rookie class on Wednesday, calling them an “A-plus” group despite their recent struggles.

“I mean, if that’s not an A-plus class, I don’t know what you’re looking for,” he said of the 2013 draft class, which has seen five rookie starters, including Dee Milliner, Sheldon Richardson, Geno Smith, Brian Winters and Tommy Bohanon.

Sheldon Richardson aside, all the Jets rookie starters have struggled this season, from Geno Smith on down to Tommy Bohanon.

All but Richardson, who is a rookie of the year candidate, have had their share of struggles, however, most notably Milliner and, of course, Smith.

But Ryan isn’t ready to give up on the youngsters just yet.

“For us to be critical of a draft class that has five starters in the National Football League, I think we’re being, I understand it’s the New York media, but this might be a little tough,” Ryan said. “This is a bit of a stretch, I think, to criticize this draft class. I think it’s as strong as I’ve ever seen.”

The merits of their starting status is debatable, however, as only Richardson seemed truly deserving coming out of training camp.

Smith won the starting quarterback job only after Mark Sanchez was injured in that infamous preseason game against the Giants. Milliner was essentially handed the job after missing most of camp due to injury. Winters beat out an embattled Vlad Duccasse and Bohanon started from day one.

Now, all four are struggling and the Jets, who have the seventh youngest team in the league with an average age of 25.6, are paying for it. They’re young, inexperienced and predictably inconsistent.

Smith leads the league in turnovers and has been benched for the equally inexperienced Matt Simms during two separate blowout losses. Putting things into even more painful perspective, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles could throw an interception on his next 50 pass attempts and still have a higher passer rating than Smith, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

Milliner, who stepped into the impossible-to-fill shoes of Darrelle Revis, has drawn the ire of Jets fans, struggling in coverage, misplaying balls in the air, missing tackles and getting benched for Darrin Walls on multiple occasions.

“I understand [Milliner] has had some struggles, I’m not making excuses for him but he’s a rookie corner,” said Ryan. “I don’t know any other rookie corners coming in the league, outside of maybe Revis, that jumped right in. I think we’ve been a little spoiled here with the corner play.”

Winters has also struggled in pass protection and Pro Football Focus recently rated Bohanon as the worst fullback in football. But Ryan isn’t worried.

“That’s okay, that doesn’t mean anything,” he said of the Milliner and Smith benchings. “We do things for different reasons or whatever but that doesn’t mean that these guys aren’t good picks. If they weren’t they wouldn’t have seen the field ever.”

Ryan maintains that all the playing time will ultimately benefit his rookies and the team moving forward.

“A lot of times when you have guys that come into the league, you’re going to make mistakes and all that stuff, but the best way to learn is to get out there and play. I think it bodes well for us in the future.”

Secondary issues: Geno not the only problem

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Geno Smith might be the poster boy for the Jets’ struggles this season – the guy that gets the headlines and elicits the most talk radio debate – but he’s not the only one to blame.

No, the Jets have a secondary problem, namely, problems with their secondary.

Geno Smith will get most of the coverage this week but he's not the only one to blame. The Jets secondary has struggled mightily this season and it's becoming an issue.

“The big play is the Achilles’ heel of our defense,” said head coach Rex Ryan before playing the Baltimore Ravens, a game in which the Jets secondary gave up two pass plays over 60 yards.

“That’s it, that is what’s preventing us from being an elite defense right now,” he added. “Obviously, we’re playing the run better than anybody in the league and it’s not close.”

And Ryan is right. In almost every context, the Jets have the league’s best run defense. They’re holding opponents to 2.85 yards per rush, which is tops in the league by almost a full yard, and Football Outsiders ranks them first in rush defense by nearly 10 percent.

But once the ball is in the air, particularly deep down field, the Jets struggle mightily and it’s becoming too hard to ignore.

From 2009-2011, Football Outsiders had the Jets pass defense ranked in the top four, holding the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in ‘09 and ‘11, respectively. Even without All-Pro Darrelle Revis for much of 2012, they were ranked in the top 10.

But this season, Football Outsiders have the Jets ranked 16th in pass defense, giving up 11.33 yards per pass, which is well below the league average. They struggle against opponent’s No. 1 wide receiver, allowing 84.9 yards per game, and are nearly last in the league (30th) against opponent’s No. 2 wide receivers.

If only the Jets had a shutdown corner, you know, the type of player who could take away the opponent’s No. 1 weapon. Maybe someone with his own island?

Not to say that the loss of Revis is to blame for the secondary’s problems this year or that the Jets wouldn’t do that deal a thousand times over if it meant getting Sheldon Richardson in return. But it’s clear that Ryan’s once dominant secondary is in sharp decline.

Looking for some type of solution, Ryan had the secondary running “Buddy Ryan” pass defense drills all last week to help them with the deep ball. It didn’t work.

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith still beat former All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie with 60-yard pass and both rookie Dee Milliner and the newly acquired Ed Reed saw Joe Flacco drop a 66-yard dime right in between their outstretched arms.

Cromartie is clearly not himself, either because of a nagging hip injury or natural decline. Reed was brought in merely as a stopgap and Milliner has struggled so publically that he’s been benched for Darrin Walls on more than one occasion.

But both Ryan and his players believe a turnaround is coming.

“For us, it comes off as, they see us as this and we know we’re something different,” said Walls. “We take it as a challenge. We know we’ve given up the deep ball in the past couple games and that’s one thing we want to stop. We want to burn that fire out and give them something else to talk about. Now it’s the deep ball, so we have to take care of that.”

And how can they be so confident?

“Because I’ve seen it and done it,” said Ryan.

Preview: Jets (4-4) vs. New Orleans Saints (6-1)

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The Jets have keep a pretty consistent win-loss, win-loss pattern going this season, so if it holds, they should pull off a thrilling victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

But as against the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, teams the Jets have upset so far this season, conventional wisdom isn’t in their favor.

The forecast will be grim for the Jets, whose struggling secondary must face off against the Saints and the third best passing offense in the league, a squad led by Drew Brees and a variety of weapons, including All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, a position the Jets have struggled to defend this season.

The Saints’ defense is also vastly improved under Rex Ryan’s brother, Rob Ryan, a unit that is ranked seventh in the league in total defense, up from 32nd a year ago. “I think the two guys, in my opinion, that are doing the best job in this league are Bob Sutton in Kansas City and then my brother in New Orleans. I don’t even think it’s close,” said Rex on Monday.

Add it all up and the Saints are 6-1 since the return of head coach Sean Payton from his suspension, making the Jets 6.5 point home underdogs this weekend.

The again, the Saints don’t really have an impressive lineup of victories (Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Miami, Buffalo) and their only loss came against the Patriots who, as we know, just lost to the Jets.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance …

After a crushing loss to the Bengals, it's only natural that the Jets would pull out a win against the Saints. But will they?

When: Sunday, November 3, 2013, 1:00 p.m. EST (TV-FOX Radio-ESPN NY, 98.7 FM)

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Injury Report (as of Thursday):

Jets:

Did not practice: G Willie Colon (calf), TE Jeff Cumberland (concussion), RB Alex Green (hamstring), WR Santonio Holmes (hamstring)

Limited: WR Stephen Hill (foot), C Nick Mangold (ribs), WR David Nelson (quadricep)

Saints:

Did not practice: G Jahri Evans (hip), S Malcolm Jenkins (knee)

Limited: WR Marques Colston (knee), TE Jimmy Graham (foot), S Roman Harper (knee), DE Tom Johnson (hip), DE Cameron Jordan (ankle), S Kenny Vaccaro (concussion, back), DT Tyrunn Walker (knee)

Watch to watch for:

Secondary education: Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner made all the headlines this week after his poor performance and subsequent benching against the Bengals. Quarterback Andy Dalton completed four of five passes with a perfect 158.3 passer rating when throwing in Milliner’s direction, but Rex stressed patience when critiquing the team’s ninth overall pick. “I will say this, by the time the season’s over, I think he will be the best rookie corner and playing better than any rookie corner in this year’s draft. I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Ryan said. It’s far too early to declare Milliner a bust and even after two benchings this season the Jets secondary has bigger problems than just Milliner. By his own admission, All-Pro Antonio Cromartie is having a down year after a Pro-Bowl campaign a year ago and with Brees rolling into town the secondary won’t be getting a break. If the Bengals can throw for 323 yards and five touchdowns, imagine what the Saints will do if the Jets don’t find a quick fix.

Resurrecting the pass rush: Putting pressure on the quarterback hasn’t been an issue for the Jets this season, until last week that is. The Jets managed only one sack and one quarterback hit against the Bengals, allowing Dalton to have a career day. If the Jets are to have any success against the Saints, they must put pressure on Brees. The also must prove that last week was nothing more than a fluke. The Jets defense is at their best when they’re getting to the quarterback. When they aren’t, the secondary is exposed and, well, it isn’t pretty. There’s no need to push the panic button just yet, the Jets are still sixth in the league with 25 sacks, led mostly by their dominant defensive line. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is the premier guy, tallying seven sacks, right up there amongst the league leaders and already a career high.

Offensive injuries: Injuries are always an issue, but this week the Jets will be especially thin on the offensive side of the ball. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, tight end Jeff Cumberland will most likely be out with a concussion, leaving Konrad Reuland and Patriots cast-off Zach Sudfeld as the only active tight ends in the wake of Kellen Winslow’s suspension. Yes, you read that correctly. Ouch. On top of that, Santonio Holmes (hamstring) will also most likely be out through the bye week, giving his hamstring ample time to get right. Making matters worse, guard Willie Colon hasn’t practiced all week with a calf injury, although he says he’s expecting to play.

X-factor:

Will the real Geno Smith please stand up (again)? Geno Smith will continue to be the x-factor for the Jets until further notice. When he plays well, the Jets find ways to win. When he doesn’t they don’t. It’s not really that simple, but it is. Smith has show flashes of being a very successful NFL quarterback, who can stretch defenses with his arm and extend plays with his legs. He’s in the top half of the league in yards (1,882) and yards per attempt (7.44) but top three in the league in interceptions (13) and top two in sacks (28). As Geno rolls, so do the Jets.

Prediction: You’d like to think the Jets will maintain their win-loss trend, at least for this week, but it just doesn’t seem likely. Not with a struggling secondary against Drew Brees and a banged up supporting class around Geno Smith. The Jets head into their Week 10 bye with a loss to the Saints, 31-17.