This is our first chance to dive in on a wide variety of position battles that have been happening the last couple of weeks and who have separated themselves early in the pack.
While there are always surprises, we normally know which players are playing what positions. That wasn’t the case this time around and most of us were taken aback when we glanced through the initial depth chart.
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Didn’t See That One Coming…
While this depth chart is unofficial, it’s still worth noting that linebacker CJ Mosley is no longer listed as the mike linebacker in this 4-3 scheme. It was widely assumed that Mosley would be the Jets’ middle linebacker this season.
The 26-year old primarily played in the middle of the defense during his time in the NFC North.
Cimini said this potentially “raised questions” about Mosley’s future with the team, but instead, it meant something else entirely.
The coaching staff (head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich) have been super high on Davis this entire offseason which perhaps explains why he was the first player the Jets signed when free agency started back in March.
In the unofficial depth chart, the starting linebackers were listed as Mosley (strongside linebacker), Davis (middle linebacker), and Hamsah Nasirildeen (weakside linebacker).
While it didn’t say the specific positions on the website, it did line up the defense so you could figure out who was playing where.
It Actually Makes a Ton of Sense
We actually got our first hint at this change a few days before the depth chart was revealed.
Rich Cimini of ESPN revealed in his Sunday morning column nuggets that, Davis “was calling the defensive signals” during training camp. He “appeared” to get the call from the sideline and then relayed it to the huddle.
Again this was a surprising development because it was assumed that Mosley would handle those responsibilities as the captain of the Jets defense and something he’s routinely done throughout his career.
Here’s why this sneaky makes sense.
Davis during his time with Detroit called plays and is most familiar with the mike linebacker role. So keep him where he played best and shift Mosley who is a more proven and versatile player to outside linebacker.
The former Baltimore Ravens stud shed over 20 pounds from his 2019 playing weight (from 250 pounds to around 231) ahead of this season. He has gotten a lot faster and has maintained his core level of strength which is paramount to playing the linebacker position in today’s NFL.
Injuries happen in the NFL all the time so it’s never a bad thing for multiple players at the second level to be familiar with calling plays, but this sounds like a next-level smart move by the coaching staff to maximize its talent at the linebacking spot.