Dee Milliner's been recognized as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the NFL's final regular-season week after a performance at Miami consisting of an incredible diving interception, a game-sealing pick late in the game, five total PDs and four tackles.
After getting off to a slow start, it appears the light's come on for the ninth overall pick out of Alabama. And that light is blinding.
"It feels great, finally catching onto things, doing what I'm supposed to do," Milliner said after the Dolphins game.
His 10 PDs the past two weeks are more than any other Jet had this entire season (he has 17 total, unofficially), and all three of his interceptions (tied for the team lead) have come in Weeks 16 and 17.
"I just think he understands the pro game," head coach Rex Ryan said. "Sometimes it takes time. He missed all of training camp, he missed all of the minicamps and all that. You throw a guy in there, it's a different game. This is the men's league and not the kids' league no matter how good the competition is. You know, when you come into this league it's different and it's just a matter of time."
Rex, Dee, and even his teammates have credited the arrival of future Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed for Milliner's sudden surge into dominance.
"A lot of advice, man," Milliner said. "He's been in the league, seen a lot of things, so he just keeps coaching me up. He's the coach on the field, he always sees me, comes by, talks to me at every meeting and sits beside me. So he's just been teaching me about the game and everything."
"We sit next to each other in meetings," Reed said. "I have seen a lot of football. To be teaching a guy, helping a guy, it helps you. It helps you to grow as a person, as a player. So it's really more hats off to him to take what I've given and just understand how to be a professional, how to grow as a rookie, going forward as a player."
"I think he came a long way in such a short amount of time," CB Darrin Walls said of Milliner. "He missed pretty much the whole preseason, and he was battling injuries and things. I think once Ed got in here and showed him how to study, showed him different things that can help him as a player, I think it helped him a lot."
It's the sixth AFC Defensive Player of the Week award for a Jets player during Rex Ryan's five-year Green & White tenure, and Milliner is the fourth different Jet to win the league honor. LB David Harris won most recently, following Week 9 of the 2011 season. CBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie also received the award in '11, while Revis and Harris won in '09 as well.
Milliner is the first Jet to have multiple interceptions in one game since Revis in 2011, also against Miami.