Jets Q&A: Dee Milliner saves his best for last

Dee Milliner (27) celebrates with teammates after intercepting

Dee Milliner (27) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass by Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill during the fourth quarter. (Dec. 29, 2013) (Credit: AP)

What did Dee Milliner say about his big day?

Some rookies might have gotten down on themselves after being benched three times in a season. But not Milliner, who intercepted two passes Sunday.

Asked if his confidence ever wavered in the course of his erratic year, he replied with a smile: "Not at all. As a corner, you've got to have a short-term memory. You've got to have confidence and you've got to keep it each week. I know it's been rough, but I just try to keep my composure and keep working.''

Milliner, whom the Jets picked ninth overall, ended the season with his best game as the Jets beat the Dolphins, 20-7. He jumped the route and picked off a pass by Ryan Tannehill intended for Mike Wallace in the third quarter, then sealed the victory with an interception with 1:30 to go.

Milliner had 10 pass breakups and three interceptions in his final two games.

"I just think he understands the pro game,'' said Rex Ryan, who credited Ed Reed's arrival for Milliner's improved play. "Sometimes it takes time.''

 

Did the Jets exceed the front office's expectations?

Ryan's team may have surprised us, but the front office isn't as easily impressed.

"My expectation is always 16-and-zip,'' owner Woody Johnson said. "To be honest with you, I don't expect to lose games.''

Added general manager John Idzik: "No, I don't think it overachieved. As Woody said, our expectations are to win . . . We don't consider it rebuilding. We're constantly building. And our expectations were to win. So I don't think this is overachieving by any stretch.''

Despite starting several rookies in key positions, including quarterback, the Jets (8-8) managed to finish two games better than they did in 2012 and knock the AFC East rival Dolphins out of playoff contention.

Idzik praised the group for its resiliency and made it clear that the front office plans "to concentrate'' on adding more offensive weapons this offseason. "I think we showed that last offseason and we're going to take that same plan going forward,'' Idzik said. "We're just thrilled with the way we finished. It showed a little bit about the character of the New York Jets.''

 

What happened to Chris Ivory?

The Jets were forced to play much of the game without the bruising back after Ivory suffered a cracked rib and a hip pointer on a carry late in the second quarter. "I tried to get back in there,'' he said, referring to a later play in which he was used as a pass blocker, "but it didn't work.''

Ivory, who gained 19 yards on five carries, said he doesn't have padding around his midsection because "I don't like wearing it cause I feel heavy.''

 

How did Bilal Powell fare in Ivory's absence?

Just as he did early in the season, Powell powered the Jets' running game without Ivory, rushing for 76 yards on 21 carries. Credit Powell with an assist on Geno Smith's 7-yard touchdown run, too. While Smith was wrapped up by the Dolphins' Dannell Ellerbe near the goal line, Powell took a running start, rammed into Smith from behind and sent him flying backward into the end zone.

The lefthanded Powell also delivered a 30-yard pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland out of the Wildcat formation, setting up a 35-yard field goal by Nick Folk that gave the Jets a 17-7 lead.

Said Powell, "Whenever my number's called, I try to take full opportunity.''

 

Did Sheldon Richardson say anything about his TD run?

The rookie defensive tackle had no reaction, really. "I'm used to it,'' he said. "I told you, I've been scoring touchdowns since high school, man. I don't get excited. That's why I don't celebrate. People get mad cause I don't celebrate.''

The 6-3, 294-pound Richardson, who had a rushing touchdown in the Jets' Week 14 loss to Carolina, has the most rushing TDs for a defensive lineman (two) in a season since the Bears' William "Refrigerator'' Perry in 1985, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

 

What happened to Kyle Wilson?

The cornerback left early in the game with a knee injury and did not return. Jeremy Kerley and Antonio Cromartie handled the return duties and backup Isaiah Trufant filled in for Wilson on defense.

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