C.J. Mosley's goals for this season with the Jets were simply stated.
"My main expectation was to stay healthy and stay on the field," Mosley said in his end-of-year interview on newyorkjets.com. "Being available, being on the field, taking the guys through situations and being a part of this team, that was my main goal, and after that just let my play take over."
Mosley achieved all that and more as the Jets' defensive leader. And one reward for his impactful return to action after missing virtually all of his first two seasons in green and white due to injuries and then COVID was to be named the '21 Curtis Martin Team MVP.
"Ah, man, it's an honor and a blessing just to be in this situation, still playing for this football team after missing two years, still being able to perform at a high level," he said. "And most importantly, to have my teammates and my brothers think so highly of me to vote me Team MVP. So I'm very honored and very blessed."
Mosley's performance was captured in his team-leading numbers. With one game to go Sunday at Buffalo, he already has 155 tackles, fifth in the NFL, his career season high, and the most by a Jet since Jonathan Vilma's league-leading 173 tackles in 2005. Not surprisingly, Mosley also has 14 tackles in third/fourth down to prevent conversions, most by a Jets front-seven player since LB David Harris had 14 in 2013.
His 12.5 tackles for loss/no gain are second behind Quincy Williams' 16.0. Add in two sacks, one of them a strip of the Jaguars' Trevor Lawrence, and three pass defenses to nicely frame up his on-field showing.
But Mosley also excelled off the field. Head coach Robert Saleh didn't have an MVP vote but he gave an indication of whom he might've cast his ballot for when talking about his defensive captain.
"C.J. is an all-pro player and an all-pro human," Saleh said. "There aren't enough good things anyone can say about him. He just shows up every single day and puts in the work and does the things necessary. He's a team-first guy. He's one of the classiest people I've ever been around, so he deserves all the praise this organization and this media market's willing to give him."
Some of the "voters," a.k.a. his teammates and brothers, had other great things to say about Mosley during the season.
"C.J.'s been phenomenal," Ashtyn Davis said. "He's always the guy you can expect to come out with energy and set the tone for the defense and really the whole team. Every time you hear him speak, you feel him. One hundred percent, I feel that."
And fellow defensive leader Sheldon Rankins calls Mosley "a guy you can't replace. He's like the calm in all the chaos. Definitely having him out there with us does nothing but make you want to raise your level of play, your sense of urgency to be on the same level he is."
Mosley continues the run of defensive players who have been voted winner of the top team award named after one of the franchise's greatest offensive players, Curtis Martin — 11 of the last 13 MVPs have been defenders, with S Marcus Maye accepting the award a year ago. Mosley is also the first Jets LB to win the award since Harris in 2010.
See the Best Images of the Curtis Martin Team MVP
Five other team awards were also announced Wednesday:
Folorunso Fatukasi — Dennis Byrd/Most Inspirational Player
The young man they call Foley gets his third team award in three years after nabbing the Kyle Clifton honor in 2019 and '20. Fatukasi earns the Byrd for his continuing inspirational contributions, from firing up the troops during pregame warmups to juicing his teammates and the fans with his sometimes high impactful hits behind the line of scrimmage.
Fatukasi makes no bones about taking after another inspirational Jets D-lineman in Steve McLendon, who won the Byrd award three years in a row, from 2017-19, before being traded to Tampa Bay last year.
"Big Steve has been a tremendous friend, mentor, a brother to a lot of people," Foley said. "His spirit is still high. I was fortunate, we were fortunate as players, as friends, to have him around. As he would tell me, the show is still going and you have to keep going."
RB Frank Gore was honored last year, but Fatukasi's win marks the ninth time in 10 years that a defensive player has won the award, named for Byrd, the Jets DL who suffered a paralyzing on-field injury in 1992, then worked inspirationally to "Rise Up and Walk," the title of his autobiography, less than a year later.
Ashtyn Davis — Ed Block Courage/Most Courageous Player
Davis worked hard to rehab his serious foot injury, suffered in December 2020 against the Raiders, so that he could return to action in October 2021 vs. the Titans and to the starting lineup two weeks later. His efforts in returning to the field have earned him the respect of his teammates in the form of the Ed Block Courage Award.
Davis is the first Jets defensive player to be presented with "the Block" since Muhammad Wilkerson in 2016 and the first Jets DB to gain the honor since Rontez Miles in '14. TE Ryan Griffin was given the award last year, which annually goes to a player by a vote of his teammates on each of the NFL's 32 teams in honoring players who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.
Quinnen Williams — Marty Lyons/Community Service
Williams, the Jets' third-year defensive lineman, has always given back to the community, perhaps inspired by his mother, Marquischa, who died of breast cancer when he was 12 years old. Quinnen has kept up his involvement with Goryeb Children's Hospital as well as the oncology wing at Morristown Medical Center, where he has visited patients, both in person and via ZOOM, and signed autographs for the children and their families.
The award is named after Lyons, the former Jets first-round draft pick, member of the "New York Sack Exchange," Ring of Honor member, current Jets radio analyst, and the longtime proponent of community service through his foundation.
Quinnen Williams — Kyle Clifton/"Good Guy"
Williams also nabbed the Clifton Good Guy Award as voted on by the Jets staff in honor of the Green & White's 13-year linebacker. Along with his Lyons, Quinnen becomes only the third Jet in the last dozen years to claim two team awards in the same season. The other two were quarterbacks: Josh McCown was named Team MVP and the Clifton winner in 2017 and Ryan Fitzpatrick grabbed the Block and Clifton honors in '15.
Elijah Moore — Bill Hampton/"Rookie Who Acts Like a Pro"
It wasn't a full season for Moore as he's missed five of the 16 games to date due to an early concussion, a late quad and COVID. But the rookie from Ole Miss played a full season in the Jets locker room and was named the winner of this year's Bill Hampton Award.
"The Hamp," named after the Jets' late, great equipment manager and voted on by the equipment staff and past award recipient, goes for the second straight year to a second-round WR, after Denzel Mims claimed the honor last year. Other winners still around the team are DL Kyle Phillips (2019) and S Erik Coleman, who won the first Hampton in 2004 and now talks Jets on a number of platforms, including WCBS-TV, SNY, Sirius XM and newyorkjets.com.