FLORHAM PARK — When CJ Mosley decided to come to the New York Jets in 2019, he came with the understanding that he would be a part of a locker room that had seen plenty of losing over the years.
Through Mosley’s four years in New York, the results haven’t been much better either with the playoff drought in Florham Park reaching over a decade. Now entering the fifth and final year of his deal with the Jets, Mosley not only sees a change in the way the team plays but the culture that has been set thanks so some high-profile acquisitions.
“If anything, there’s going to be a target on our back (now),” Mosley said Tuesday afternoon. “Whether the disrespect came from people chalking up a W when they saw the Jets on the schedule, now we can have a bigger target on our back. That’s exactly what we want.”
New York’s transformation over the years has specifically come from the defensive side of the ball. Where once, the team struggled to maintain consistent outcomes over the years, Mosley has helped lead a defensive unit that ranked in the top five in points, yards, and passing. Mosley, himself has tallied over 150 tackles in the last two years and was named a second-team All-Pro last year.
Maintaining that success will ultimately be the key to Gang Green returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
“It’s going to be very hard. It’s never easy finishing top five in the league…We can show different things, we can trust each other…we have that confidence to keep building forward,” Mosley explained.
Part of that familiarity and trust that’s been built on defense has been because Mosley has now played with the same linebacker core over the last two seasons. While the position group has seen some change, bringing back Quincy Williams on a three-year deal allows both he and Mosley to continue to grow to be a dynamic linebacking duo.
“Our relationship has been really well. It’s grown every single year. Just watching him grow as a leader, now he can process what the offense is doing. He’s helping me with communication so just seeing that part of his game grow makes my job easier,” Mosley told AMNY after practice.
The respect Mosley and Williams have had for each other is evident. Both players keep each other accountable and continue the tradition of competition that has seeped through the entire practice facility at 1 Jets Drive. Mosley may have received a lot of recognition over the years but it’s Williams’ who he called a “fast linebacker” and “one of the best (linebackers) in the league.”
But the two linebackers aren’t the only ones competing for playing time.
With Kwon Alexander still unsigned and a free agent, the Jets seem prepared to allow younger players like Jamien Sherwood to take the reigns of the looming opening at the weakside linebacker spot.
“Just seeing growth, him trusting his game, he knows this defense inside and out. Going into year three, now it’s just making those plays on the field. Going into this camp, we have a lot of players looking to break out and get some playtime. He’ll be one of the players we’ll look to rely on for both defense and special teams,” Mosley said of the former fifth-round selection.
At 30 years old, Mosley enters his ninth NFL season as the oldest linebacker on the Jets roster. The group may have changed over the years since he entered the facility five years ago, but the style of play and overall development of the position around him has certainly taken leaps forward.
It’ll be up to him and the rest of the improved linebacking core to continue that success.