EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Maybe C.J. Mosley was just excited about being back on the field. Perhaps it was what he has seen the past several weeks at practice.
But when the New York Jets linebacker was asked after a 12-7 preseason-opening victory over the Giants in quarterback Zach Wilson's debut Saturday night if people might be “sleeping” on the team's defensive line, Mosley delivered a zinger with the pop of one of his tackles.
“I go back to one of my quotes when I first got here about people sleeping on the Jets,” Mosley said. "If people come with that same mentality, they’re going to get their (rear ends) blown out. That’s 100 percent, no matter if we’re at MetLife (Stadium) or anywhere else. If they think there’s anything old about this Jets team, it’s not going to end well for them.
"That’s the mindset that we’re going to bring to work every day.”
Insert wide-eyed emoji here.
It was a bold statement that led reporters to pause for a second to make sure they heard him right.
“We've just got to make sure that we hold each other accountable every day when we go to practice, make sure we try to stay as healthy as possible,” Mosley continued. “You know, have the same mindset, same goal to win every game.”
Winning has been tough to come by the past several years, and especially since Mosley joined the Jets in 2019 after five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. New York, which has the NFL's longest active postseason drought at 10 seasons, went 9-23 under coach Adam Gase the last two years, including 2-14 last season.
Mosley had little to do with any of those wins or losses after being limited to just two games in 2019 because of a groin injury and opting out of last season because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the 29-year-old linebacker, who slimmed down from 250 pounds to 231 to be more mobile, is healthy again and highly motivated to show he's the same player — or better — as the one who made four Pro Bowls in Baltimore.
The breath of fresh air from new coach Robert Saleh and the scheme of defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich have something to do with Mosley's confidence. Actually playing and making tackles again do, too, because he certainly missed that.
“Yeah, 100 percent, man,” said Mosley, who had a tackle and a pass defensed in his two series. “You can never take this game for granted, whether it's preseason or anything like that. Any time you step on the field, you want to try to give it your all and you want to try to take advantage of every opportunity that you can get.”
Sure, it was only preseason, and the starters played very little. But the Jets' defensive line was solid throughout — starters and backups.
While Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins, John Franklin-Myers and Foley Fatukasi figure to be the main men up front when the real games begin, youngsters such as Bryce Huff (two sacks), Hamilcar Rashed (1 1/2 sacks), Jonathan Marshall (one sack) and Michael Dwumfour (one-half sack) give Mosley and the Jets hope that they could have a deep — and dominant — bunch on the defensive line.
“We’re fast, that’s one thing I can say,” Mosley said. “An explosive D-line that's going to get after it, especially when we get teams in second-and-long and third-and-long. Even third-and-short, we’re going to get our defensive line trying to get after the opponent’s quarterback. I think we’re going to be a defense that’s going to make you try to throw over the top and we’re going to make you try to run the ball on us because if you don’t, it's going to be a long day for your quarterbacks.”
Again, let that be a warning to other NFL teams.
Mosley thinks the Jets are coming after you. And he'll be among those leading the way.
“I was just embracing everything,” Mosley said. “It was exciting for me once we got on the field and that first play, it was just like I was back at home. It was fun.”
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