Jets coach Rex Ryan says he's confident the Jets will be a playoff team, but wide receiver David Nelson takes it a step further.
Yup, he believes the Jets can take it all the way to the Super Bowl.
"When you get in the tournament, anything can happen,'' Nelson said at an event Monday night in New York introducing his I'mme Foundation (imme.org), a group devoted to helping the people of Haiti. "If you're in the playoffs, you're a playoff team, then you're definitely a Super Bowl team.''
The Jets are brimming with confidence heading into training camp -- they report to their upstate Cortland facility on Wednesday -- and Nelson says he feels as good about this team as any he's ever been on.
"I've seen guys say that , but deep down in their hearts, they didn't believe it,'' Nelson said. "But for the first time in my career, I say it with conviction and say it with belief that this is a playoff team. We have the talent and the capability.''
Nelson said the way the Jets finished last year, rallying to wind up at 8-8 after a midseason slump, gives him confidence moving forward. The addition of wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Chris Johnson only reinforces that belief.
"You can't rely on last year and past success, but going 8-8 with the team we had last year, with the youth we had, the inexperience, the way we finished the season last year showed us we have the potential,'' he said. "So if we can take that and apply it in a much more consistent manner this year, we're definitely a playoff team.
"I think we have the talent and the skill set and the players to do it. It's making sure we mesh well together consistently each and every single week. You saw a top 10 offense one week and a bottom 10 the next week, so this year, it's going to be an emphasis on being consistent and making sure we're putting the same team out there each and every week.''
When Nelson was asked if he is concerned that the Jets might have a target on their backs with all the playoff predictions coming from their locker room, he didn't seem to care.
"There's a difference between arrogance and confidence,'' he said. "You have to be confident in what you do. You have to be able to go and say, you know what, we have the ability. We have the talent and the capability. We were so close last year. The pieces that we've added, I truly believe it.''
Nelson said he's in the best shape of his life, although much of his offseason training was rather unorthodox. He has visited Haiti nearly a dozen times since January and stayed in condition by running sprints, running up the steep hills of the region and lifting not weights, but boulders.
"They had the earthquake [in 2010], so there's tons of rubble everywhere,'' said Nelson, whose mission is to help the orphaned children of the island nation. "So you'd run, sprint, pick up a rock, do some lunges, run up a hill. I'd run up the mountains and pick up rocks, do squats, bench-press kids. I played a lot of soccer, and a lot of agility is involved. I feel better physically than I ever have.''
Nelson said the addition of Michael Vick has been a benefit to the team, particularly to incumbent starter Geno Smith.
"Mike's done a really good job of helping further [Smith's] development,'' he said. "I don't get the sense that Mike's coming in here to take advantage of the situation in any manner. He's coming in, working hard. He's doing whatever he can to help Geno in every situation.''
Former Broncos receiver Decker, who went to the Super Bowl last year, won't make any guarantees, nor will he predict a playoff run. But he does feel good about this team.
"As a player, if you don't have expectations or you don't set your goals to be a playoff team, why are you playing the game?" he said. "I'm not playing the game to be a 2-14 team. I'm trying to be a playoff-contending Super Bowl team. I really feel like the pieces are there. Every team's different. You've seen teams that have high expectations fail. You've seen teams that are underdogs succeed. It's about finding your identity."
No guarantees from Decker, though.
"To be honest, for me, I don't make predictions," he said. "I believe that I joined a team that has capabilities. It's a one-game-at-a-time mentality. That's how I've taken my career. If you chip one game at a time and you stack them up, that's how you give yourself a chance."
Smith wouldn't offer a playoff guarantee either, but he too feels good about his team.
"I definitely believe in my heart we'll do some great things, and we're capable of being a good team, but we have to work at it," he said. "We have training camp coming up and we'll see what happens from there.
"We've got Rex, and he's never going to let us settle. We're optimistic, we believe in the work that we're putting in. Everyone has pretty much bought in. I've been there for a year now going on two and [Ryan] is a great coach. Work hard and prepare to play and win every game."