Early in June, I was in attendance for the NFL Digital Meetings at LA Live in California. Each year, the league comes up with a slogan and the 2014 mantra is 'Why Not Us?'
Although Seahawks QB Russell Wilson didn't coin the phrase, he brought it to light last year as he led his club to its first Super Bowl title.
"I remember my dad asking me one time, and it's something that has always stuck with me: 'Why not you, Russ?' You know, why not me? Why not me in the Super Bowl? So in speaking to our football team earlier in the year, I said, 'Why not us? Why can't we be there?'"
A simple lesson from a father to a son, but so profound nonetheless. Harrison Benjamin Wilson III, who died in 2010 due to complications from diabetes, should be thought of many times this year when we hear that memorable phrase.
Why not the Jets in 2014?
In a league that's trademark is its parity, it would not be miraculous if the Jets won the Super Bowl. But a ton of things would have to bounce their way in order to be playing for the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 1, 2015, at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Many pundits question whether Geno Smith is the answer at quarterback and the defensive backfield has a number of questions. And this is a team that hasn't appeared in the postseason since 2010, so just receiving an invite to "The Dance" would be a step forward.
But on the other side of the ledger, the defensive line is inarguably a top-three unit and the NFL's 6th-ranked ground attack should be even more formidable with Chris Johnson on board. There are more weapons for Smith and/or Mike Vick, and this was a Jets team that posted a 7-1 record when scoring 20 points in 2013 and incredibly was 7-4 when scoring at least 10.
Wilson and the 'Hawks didn't sneak up on anyone last year. They had legitimate Super Bowl aspirations after an 11-5 campaign and progression to the divisional playoffs.
In Wilson's rookie year, the Seahawks were 9th in the NFL in scoring at 25.8 points per contest. They rode a strong rush attack (161.1 yards/game ranked 3rd in the NFL) and gradually gave Wilson more things on his plate. And they became a dominant defense, holding teams to an NFL-low 15.3 points per contest.
Last season, the 'Hawks got even better defensively while holding clubs to an NFL-low 14.4 points per contest. They actually had similar numbers offensively, tying the Packers for 8th in scoring at 26.1 points a game. The run game dropped off a little (136.8 yards/game ranked 4th in the NFL) and Wilson got the pass game up to 26th (202.2 yards) from 27th (189.4).
The top 10 photos of the New York Jets 2014 Minicamp
The Seahawks should be a model for the Jets because there are parallels in the foundation. Play good to elite defense and wear you down with a physical ground attack.
The Jets know they have a ways to go to become an elite D because their scoring defense was ranked 21st (24.2 points/contest) and pass defense was ranked 22nd (246.7 yards/game). You can guarantee the Jets will sit out another postseason if they don't get this turnover thing figured out. After placing T5 in turnover margin ( 13), the 'Hawks were No. 1 last season ( 20). No team was collectively worse than the Jets in turnover margin the past two seasons as they finished 29th (-14) and 30th (-14), respectively. And for all the talk of Geno Smith's ball security issues as a rookie, the Jets defense finished 31st in takeaways with 15. Don't expect to hear a lot of playoff talk from the Jets when they arrive at SUNY Cortland next week. But in a conference where just two elite teams — the Broncos and the Patriots — reside, the postseason should be the goal.