NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — He must know something the rest of the sports world doesn’t.
Muhammad Wilkerson is so confident the Jets won’t end up as the dumpster fire so many are predicting them to be in 2017, he told reporters on Tuesday night his team will actually be better than the 5-11 dysfunctional mess it was last season.
Yeah, he really did.
“The team will definitely be positive and do more things better than we did last year, I can guarantee that,” Wilkerson told reporters before the United Way of New York City Gridiron Gala. “We’ll have more wins than we did last year and that’s a fact.”
That bold prognostication flies in the face of what every NFL expert has intimated since the Jets started their offseason roster purge. Currently with one of the thinnest talent bases in the league, the Jets have holes at basically every position, short of along the defensive line, where Wilkerson calls home.
However, Wilkerson, himself, was terrible last season, laying a giant egg not long after signing a five-year, $86 million contract that includes $54 million guaranteed. The former first-round pick out of Temple had just 4.5 sacks in 2016, after putting up 12 the season before.
Jets legend Joe Namath was also at Tuesday night’s charity event, but he took a much more reserved position on the team’s 2017 potential.
“You have to earn respect and that’s by going out and winning some games, showing something, and getting some teams wary of you,” Namath said. “Right now, I don’t think there are many teams wary of the Jets. … Until they start playing well, who’s going to respect them?”
New York’s biggest question mark heading into training camp — as it has basically been for the better part of all the years that have passed since Namath left the franchise following the 1976 season — is at quarterback. General manager Mike Maccagnan signed journeyman Josh McCown during free agency, but the soon-to-be 38-year-old is just 18-42 as a starter and has played for 10 teams during his 14-year career.
The Jets also have young signal-callers Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg on the roster, but they haven’t convinced anyone yet that they can be starters in the NFL.
Gang Green also has a very young receiving corps, and issues along the offensive line and in the secondary, though Maccagnan did pluck stud safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye in the first two rounds of the draft.