New England head coach Bill Belichick is known for his glowing praise of upcoming opponents. Lots of fans and reporters think it's all headgames and baloney before he and the Patriots lower the boom on Sunday.
That's probably not true. It's more like half of the stuff Belichick says is sincere and half isn't. That seems to be the percentage that works for Jets MLB C.J. Mosley.
"Yeah, I did," Mosley said when asked if he heard Belichick's effusive praise of his game this week before the Jets and Pats get it on in their rematch at Gillette Stadium. "It's definitely an honor coming from a coach of his stature, having seen a lot of football, seen a lot of players and being around ball a long time. Anytime you get a nod or a pat on the back from one of those types of coaches, it's always appreciated.
"But it's in one ear, out the other. You appreciate it but you take it with a grain of salt. I put a lot of time and effort into my style of play, so it definitely feels good to get recognized for it, but you understand the nature of the business."
What Belichick said this week nevertheless rings true. It's in line with what Jets HC Robert Saleh, coordinator Jeff Ulbrich and Mosley's teammates and occasional opponents have said about the veteran who has helped lead the Green & White to their position at 6-3 and in the hunt for an AFC playoff berth for the first time since 2015.
"Mosley definitely is as good as anybody we play against as a player," the Patriots boss said. "But then he's going to quarterback the defense. He gets things right for them like 99.9% of the time."
"You always try to anticipate," Mosely said of the way his game has evolved throughout his pro career. "I don't want to be out there just guessing, just reacting to things. You see formations, you get a tell, whether it's from a lineman, a quarterback, a check, a wide receiver being in a certain type of stance. It does take a lot of studying to see those types of things. ... Some things you can't really hide."
See the top photos from Thursday's practice leading up to the road game against New England.
When Mosley communicates to his teammates what he foresees happening on the other side of the ball, there is always the possibility that he'll be wrong. He acknowledges that prospect but doesn't let it weigh him down.
"More times than not," he said of how often he's right. "There's a couple of times when I'm wrong, but I've got 10 players on my side to help get me right. Whether I'm wrong or right, I'll just play fast and get to the ball."
The Mosley method is working. A statistical nugget mined by the NFL this week reveals the Jets are on pace to become the first team in the Super Bowl era to rank in the NFL's top 10 in both scoring and total defense one season after finishing last in both categories.
For the third time in the last four weeks, the Jets are in those top tens. This week they're seventh in total yards allowed/game and 10th in points allowed/game. It's been many weeks and many losses since that last happened on an extended basis, for virtually all of the 2015 season.
As sharp and talented as Mosley is at deciphering what the other team's offense plans to do each play, he also has a keen eye and positive words for his own team. In that regard, he's a bit like Belichick. Where a lot of fans think the Patriots leader is full of baked beans for his effusive praise of "the enemy," other fans may have thought this offseason and preseason, "There goes Mosley playing up his Jets again."
But as usual, it seemed Mosley knew what he was looking at.
"I play this game to get into these playoff moments, to be playing in January, to be relevant late in the season," he said. "Based off of what we saw going into OTAs and minicamp, you could just see the work ethic, feel the camaraderie, see how everyone was bonding together. So when we finished minicamp, I had a really good feeling about the team, our defense, the guys that came here and wanted to do something.
"It was just what I truly believed, that we were a team that can make the playoffs if we put ourselves in position this first half. So now we just have to go into the second half, keep our head down, keep executing and play ball."