There is no one recipe for creating a successful football team in the NFL, but there are certain ingredients that are common among the league's elite. One of these ingredients is a sense of competition among players, something new general manager John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan have instilled in the Jets early on this summer.
One of the players who has felt the surge of competition through training camp is fourth-year cornerback and former first-round draft pick Kyle Wilson. When asked about the competition Wilson was quick to sing the praises of the new mentality.
"Yeah, competition brings out the best in everybody," he said, "I've been on a lot of winning teams and that's been a common theme in all of them."
Wilson isn't intimidated by the competition, a mindset that has been a big part of his game dating to his time as a valuable piece in a powerful Boise State defense.
Head coach Rex Ryan has made it clear that every position will be subject to competition for starting roles, including cornerback. Wilson who started 15 of the team's 16 games last season, was asked if he felt it was his job to lose coming in to training camp.
"My intentions going into camp are just to come in and do my thing, go out each day and continue to get better," Wilson answered humbly. "I want to earn as much playing time as I can on this team. Nothing is ever given to me."
Entering their first full season since 2006 without All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, many are wondering if the Jets can remain a dominant secondary, one that features Wilson and first-round draft pick Dee Milliner to go along side All-Pro corner Antonio Cromartie. Wilson seemed confident when asked about his unit for the coming season.
"Definitely, we were pretty good last year and we weren't satisfied with that," he said. "Our goal is to get better. Last year was last year and we just focus on improving each day, tweaking the fine details and just growing together as a team."
Competition is not the only thing that is different about this year's trip up to SUNY Cortland for Wilson. He is also sporting a new look to go along with a commitment to retain his starting role from last season. For the first time as a Jet, Wilson is without his signature dreadlocks that were so easily recognized flowing from under his white helmet. He was asked about playing without his familiar hairstyle.
"It's a little different," he said, "but it's still me."