Okay, so you don’t believe in Kyle Wilson. Guess what? He doesn’t care. He’s got other things on his mind.
Chapter 1: The Curious Case of Kyle Wilson
Over the past few weeks, one topic that I’ve grown connected to is the progress of second year CB Kyle Wilson. I really wanted to know where he was at this point in the off-season, physically, but more so mentally. Well, thanks to the wonders of social media, I’ve been able to contact Kyle about his mindset and what he’s thinking going in to year two of the “New” New York Jets. I came away believing in one thing: Kyle Wilson. Let me clarify, I’ve always been a fan of Kyle Wilson, but now I’m a believer in Kyle Wilson.
Regular season opener. Monday Night Football. Opening a new stadium. Rex Ryan is your coach. Yes, the Jets lost in a heart breaker but in trying to think about Kyle Wilson’s mindset and feelings going into the game, it’s impossible, only he can. “Opening up against the Ravens was an intense atmosphere. It was dark and raining for part of the game and the excitement and elements set the tone for a very physical competition,” Wilson said. “I felt good going into the game. I was prepared, yet anxious for my first regular season game. I had been waiting for that moment my whole life and it was finally there. I fought my hardest and played the best I could.” Wilson finished with 3 tackles and 2 passes defended. The Ravens passed for 248 yards and 0 touchdowns. 65 of Anquan Boldin’s 110 yards came on two passes where Wilson defended, not ideal, but Wilson didn’t give up and he showed great instincts in the game.
Now, being a rookie in the NFL can’t be easy, but learning Rex Ryan’s defense can be downright scary. I asked Wilson if he had any complications in learning it. He said, “I had to soak in a lot, but I did pay attention to everything. Learning multiple positions and learning new positions isn’t easy, but I did my best. I just had to work on the new techniques of playing inside and other than that, just learning more positions. As I found out, I could be playing one position this week, another position the following week, or even multiple positions that week. In some instances the techniques or schemes can be complimentary or direct opposites of what was previously learned. So, there was never just learning one position and after all of that, it’s a matter of finding comfort and confidence in your role. Being in and out of the line up was tough, but I will always keep fighting to be at my best.”
Translation: Wilson has his head on straight. He knows what it takes to be a professional football player and maybe even more importantly, a great teammate. Wilson could have complained and started some fires but he didn’t. It was tough but Wilson has been resilient before. Coming out of high school, he struggled to gain national attention as a college football recruit. According to Rivals.com, he picked Boise State over colleges such as Delaware and Rutgers University. Not exactly the ideal NFL proving grounds but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Wilson has love and respect for the places that did give him the opportunity to play.
Chapter 2: Off-Season? What Off-Season?
Fast-forward to year number two. Another off-season just like last year? Not so fast says Wilson. In a year, with a lockout, Wilson obviously hasn’t seen this type of off-season and you can’t compare it to his rookie year, he was too busy. “Well, last year there was no offseason,” said Wilson. “I started training for my Senior Bowl five days after playing in my last college game (Fiesta Bowl). Immediately following the Senior Bowl I began training for the Combine and then my Pro Day. Then the draft came, followed by mini camps which led straight into the season. So when the season was over, I took a well needed vacation. I cleared my head and started building my foundation for next year. I realized you can’t go hard all the time. It’s about peaking at the right moment. I hear from all the veterans that there won’t be another offseason like this so I guess I really don’t know what a typical offseason is like.”
As of many of us know, Wilson worked out with Darrelle Revis in Arizona this off-season, but Wilson set the record straight with what has been passed through the media pipeline over the past month or so. “Working out with Darrelle has been great. He’s at the top right now, which is where I aspire to be in my own way.” Wilson continued, “I believe some people in the media are blowing things out of proportion. It was great to compete with him, bond with him, and learn from him. He is successful for things he has done and I am not trying to piggy-back off any of his accolades.
What many did not know, including myself, is that Wilson has also been working with another veteran NFL DB. Mike Adams, a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns who is also a New Jersey native. “Many fail to mention the previous months I have been working out with Mike Adams,” Wilson commented. “A multi-year veteran who has mentored me through my first year and took me under his wing this off-season.”
Writer’s full disclosure: I can’t sit here and say I knew who Mike Adams was prior to Wilson mentioning him. It rang a bell but that’s it. Only after researching did I know who he was referring to.
Wilson went on, “It somewhat bothers me and I would just like to reiterate that I have always made my own way. My career is what I make of it and I never try to capitalize off the success of others. I’m always seeking to gain advice and learn from those who have been through similar situations, but sometimes outsiders may misconstrue or misinterpret my actions. As a professional, I take my craft very seriously and have been working my ass off long before training with Darrelle. After bashing me all season long, some may want to cover a story because I went to Arizona to workout with one of my teammates who happens to be the best in the business right now. It may make for a sensational story, but at the end of the day, I work hard every day to become a better player both mentally and physically.”
Chapter 3: Focus + Consistency = Comfortable
Wilson came close to an interception a few times last year, one that stuck out in my mind was the Steelers AFC Championship, he jumped a route and was in position for the pick but the ball sailed through his hands. I asked him if there will be a sense of relief once he gets his first interception after coming so close to one last year. “Yes I did, really close, but I will get one. I have goals that I would like to attain, but my first is to get on the field. Until then, my focus is to play smarter by learning from last year and finding a steady role on the team starting somewhere. I know being more consistent in my technique will lead to sacks, picks, and pass break-ups.”
Many questions are being asked. Inside or outside? Can he play both positions? Will he be more comfortable playing those positions? Not a problem, according to Wilson. “I will be more comfortable in general. Not saying it will be smooth sailing, but like I said earlier, I paid attention to everything. How to practice, how practice affects games, what coaches are looking for, and how the coaches react in-game versus practice are all different. Having some insight coming into the season, I know that this next year I am going to go out and play my game.”
Wilson can do it, he has all the tools. He just needs to go out there and set it in stone for his critics. As Wilson put it so elegantly (yes, I said elegantly), “You’re either with me or against me. No struggle, no progress. There isn’t much to talk about. I’m simply focused on getting better and being my best. That will never change.” The man is focused. He wants to start any way he can and he’s doing what he can do make sure he gets to that level. That championship level that Rex Ryan demands his players play at.
Chapter 4: Nostradamus?
Wilson was understandably quiet and reserved when talking about impending free agent Antonio Cromartie and whether or not the Jet’s brass can keep him and Darrelle Revis under one roof. “Not sure, I have nothing to do with management. Both players would help out the team so I would imagine they are trying to keep our unit intact.” Fair enough. I need to keep in mind this guy is fighting for a spot in the starting rotation. I’m not saying he wishes Revis or Cromartie weren’t there, because Wilson needs one or both or them on his side. In my opinion, Wilson is more physical than Cromartie but Revis is currently superior to both. I believe Wilson can get into to Revis’ league and if Cromartie were to not resign. I like Wilson on the outside, starting CB. Now, all know how brash and bold Rex Ryan can be. You think Kyle Wilson would give you a prediction like Rex’s yearly Super Bowl prediction? I asked him if he had any predictions going into the season. Wilson responded, “I know the Jets are getting better. I got the Heat in 6 with Lebron as the Finals MVP.”
I don’t know about all that Lebron and the Heat talk but as far as Kyle Wilson and the Jets go: Goosebumps, folks, goosebumps.You can follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JetsFlightDeck You can follow Kyle Wilson on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kwilson20 You can follow Gerry Wilson on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justfndoit