While the Jets added a number of talented players on both sides of the ball in free agency, perhaps their most coveted signing was linebacker C.J. Mosley.
“Really wanted him,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. “He’s one of the guys that played for a very good friend of mine — Nick Saban. So, I understand the whole philosophy of what he's gone through. He's had his ass chewed before, so I don't have to worry about that because that's how Nick is. But he's a really good leader. He leads by example first. All the great leaders that I've ever been a part of have to show great example before you open your mouth.”
Mosley, whom head coach Adam Gase described as a “culture changer,” is a four-time Pro Bowler and one of three players since 2000 to have totaled 5+ sacks, 30+ QB hits, 5+ interceptions, 30+ pass defenses 5+ forced fumbles and 5+ fumble recoveries in any five-year span.
Since entering the league, the 6’2”, 250-pounder helped lead a Ravens defense finish top-eight overall in four of the last five seasons. Last year, Mosley was a part of a unit that paced the NFL in overall defense and the 27-year-old will surely help a Jets unit that finished No. 25.
“We’re excited about where he can take us and the things he can do from a leadership standpoint, but as far as him on the field, the sky is the limit for the kid,” said Jets assistant head coach/inside linebacker coach Frank Bush. “He’s such a sharp kid and knows how to get himself in and out of situations. So we’re excited to see what we can get done.”
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Beware of Dawg
Since entering the league in 2016, outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins has quietly and consistently improved his pass rush. His sack and quarterback hit totals have increased each season and Jenkins totaled a career-best 21 QB hits and co-team-leading seven sacks in 2018. Entering his fourth season, the former third-round pick out of Georgia feels like he’s just scratching the surface.
“I can’t just say, ‘I think I should get this number of sacks, x number of TFLs.’ I feel like I can be as great as I can be, but I have to go out there and put the work in,” Jenkins said. “I can’t just say the words and not put in the work.
“Now, I’m at the point where I sort of realized what I can do. I have to keep working and mentally prepare myself to have that mentality every time that I can do this and I need to do that much and more.”
Throughout the offseason, the 6’3”, 259-pounder zeroed in on his upper body strength because of a nagging shoulder injury from last season. Jenkins also focused on his footwork, which caught the eye of senior defensive assistant/OLBs coach Joe Vitt.
“More of an athletic guy than I originally thought,” Vitt said. “He’s got great bend, he’s got better foot work than I thought, and he’s gotten extremely strong this offseason. He can bend an edge. He’s worked hard, he’s smart, he’s picked up the defense very quickly. He’s a pleasure to be with in the classroom because he’s engaging. So, I suspect and would anticipate him having a great year.”
Patience for Polite
When the Jets drafted Jachai Polite, they added another quarterback hunter to the mix. The third-round pick, No. 68 overall, had a stellar senior season at Florida where he racked up 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. Even though Polite had a quiet spring, Vitt says don’t jump to any conclusions.
“Well listen he’s been running around in his pajamas now for [a few] weeks, so it’s too soon to tell,” Vitt said. “I mean he’s got a long way to go. But he’s got size, he’s got a good attitude. But he’s got to go through a training camp, and obviously the pads are going to define him when we put them on.”