The New York Jets haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010 and they haven’t fielded a team with an above .500 record in five years.
Gang Green as a team has a ton to prove in 2021. Their roster is overflowing with a variety of players that are carrying a massive chip on their shoulder heading into a new season.
Perhaps none greater than their former All-Pro linebacker who is set to return after a nearly two-year hiatus.
CJ Mosley Holds the Keys to a Successful 2021 Season
CJ Mosley is a former four-time Pro Bowler with an incredible statistical resume from his five years in Baltimore (via Pro Football Reference):
- Durable: started in 77 out of 80 possible games.
- Productive: nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, 579 combined tackles, 43 tackles for loss, 32 quarterback hits, and recorded 8.5 sacks.
All of that success led to a massive free-agent contract with the Jets. A record-breaking five-year deal for $85 million with $43 million of that fully guaranteed.
Unfortunately for Gang Green fans, they haven’t been able to enjoy any fruits of that labor. Mosley in his first year with the team only played in parts of two contests, the rest of the year he was on the shelf due to a myriad of injuries.
Then this past season Mosley took advantage of the COVID opt-out clause that was negotiated by the NFLPA.
In other words, his first two seasons with the Jets have been an utter disappointment. Mosley is 28 years old, will be 29 by the start of the 2021 season, and expectations are murky after not playing in two years.
Will he return to his former All-Pro level? Will he just get injured again and thus the former Ravens star will join a long list of other free agent busts for the Jets?
No one can honestly answer that question with any level of certainty.
“I think he’s one of those players that it really doesn’t matter what the scheme is, he’s going to fit,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said to the media. “He’s been a fantastic player his entire life and that’s not going to change just because a new coaching staff has come in. He’s a tremendous leader. He’s a tremendous football player. He hasn’t played in a couple of years, so you know he’s just chomping at the bit to get back onto the football field. And so, we’re excited to get a chance to work with him and to help him get back to playing every day and being the star that he’s been.”
CJ Mosley Can Unlock the Rest of the Jets Defense
The green and white are absolutely paper-thin at linebacker.
During free agency, they added former Detroit Lions first-rounder Jarrad Davis. He plays the same position as Mosley, but he will likely kick to outside linebacker in this 4-3 scheme.
Then in the 2021 NFL draft, the Jets added a few intriguing athletic players on day three in Hamsah Nasirildeen out of Florida State and Jamien Sherwood out of Auburn. Both players were defensive backs in college. They project as weakside linebackers at the NFL level.
If Mosley continues to battle injuries or just stinks, this defense could be in for a long year. Although if the former Baltimore star can return to his former glory, the Jets could exceed expectations in 2021.
After signing a deal of that magnitude, Mosley has a ton to prove not only to the Jets but also to himself. New York made him the highest-paid linebacker in football for a reason.
A natural-born leader with All-Pro credentials. Jets fans witnessed for just a moment in time what the defense could look like with Mosley running things.
Two years ago, the Jets opened up the season vs the Buffalo Bills and all seemed right in the world.
New York was up 16-0 in the second half. Mosley had a pair of takeaways including a pick-six right at the beginning of the game. The defense had bottled up Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense until the Jets star linebacker reached for his groin and fell in a heap.
Boom just like that the momentum of the Jets went out the window. Buffalo ended up coming back to win 17-16 and alas another lost season.
Fast forward to the 2021 offseason and Jets fans are once again brimming with hope.
With Mosley roaming and making all the defensive calls, the rest of the players on that side of the ball can play looser. When you have confidence in your fellow man, you can play with a swag. The Jets haven’t had that in two years. It’s time to get that back.