You ever have that feeling that you’re all alone in the world? Where no matter what you say, no matter how passionate you are about your feelings, that no one listening is going to care enough to understand you?
That’s how I feel when it comes to Justin Miller.
I understand that my thoughts are completely irrational to some. He was drafted out of Clemson in the second-round of the 2005 NFL Draft, and never quite materialized as a starting cornerback.
He has yet to record an interception, he was inconsistent in coverage, and was a bit too much of a hot-head on the field at the most inopportune times.
But I still wanted the Jets to bring him back home.
I silently hoped that Mike Tannenbaum would be on the phone with Miller’s agent, negotiating a reasonable deal that would bring the All-Pro kick returner back where he belongs.
It’s not because I’m an exceptional talent scout and can spot a legend in the making. I don’t think Justin Miller is the return of Deion Sanders. But I do believe he was never utilized properly.
Drafted at a mere 21, Miller was a young, aggressive player who was never molded accordingly. His skills were never developed, and he was never afforded an opportunity to fully grasp the intricacies of the professional game.
Making the transition from college to the NFL as a cornerback is widely regarded as one of the most difficult. Not everyone is Darrelle Revis.
I was eager to see Miller tried at another position. If his coverage skills made him that much of a liability, then his physical skills could’ve made him exceptional elsewhere: Safety.
Allowing Miller to use his speed and aggressive nature to break up plays from deep in the secondary would’ve masked his inability to cover.
Humor me, Jets’ fans. Can’t you imagine Justin Miller zipping across the field and demolishing a receiver crossing the middle? Can’t you see him crushing a running back who think he’s home free after getting through the defensive line?
But he still found a niche, and he carved it fairly quickly.
An incredibly fast-runner with a fearless approach to kick returning, Miller found himself at a Pro Bowl in only his second season after developing a reputation as a special-teams threat.
And that is what would’ve made him so valuable to the team.
With the Thomas Jones contract dispute expected to get worse, it’s looking like the Leon Washington Era could soon be on the fast track.
Do the Jets want to risk an injury to Washington on a return when he will be more vital to the offense?
Better yet, wouldn’t it have been best to have two Pro Bowl return men that kickers are terrified of? It’s bad enough kickers avoid Leon already. Imagine if they sent the ball into Justin Miller’s arms instead?
Forget it. Don’t imagine. It’s not going to happen, and you don’t feel me on this anyway.