"The team will definitely be positive and do more things better than we did last year," Wilkerson said Tuesday, via NJ.com. "I can guarantee that. We'll have more wins than we did last year. That's a fact."
The 27-year-old former first-round pick has been around the block in New York long enough to know that using the word guarantee isn't the best idea. Thankfully, the Mets are imploding, and insisting your team could be a little bit better than 5-11 but still might finish out of the playoffs is not as sexy as Joe Namath by the pool predicting a Super Bowl win.
We'll give him a break because Wilkerson has to be a positive force for this team. After signing a five-year $86 million deal before the start of last season, he's one of the few non-rookies that will almost certainly see this rebuild through. After struggling in 2016, the year following a broken fibula in the season finale, Wilkerson also knows that he has to set an example on the field as well.
Should he come back to 2015 levels -- he was elected to the Pro Bowl that year with 12 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles -- maybe the Jets' steady improvement won't seem that far-fetched. After all, this defensive line was once the subject of envy among opposing coaches. But if their front sees another year of struggling Wilkerson, spotty Sheldon Richardson and exceptional Leonard Williams, there won't be enough ammo on the field to navigate an increasingly difficult AFC East.