Few things on an NFL field escape the gaze or the grasp of Jets' middle linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Last week, Mosley was so focused on helping the Jets throttle the Miami Dolphins that, even after the game, he did not realize he had just reached a career milestone -- he had played in his 100th game spread over eight seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and the Green & White. And incredibly, the accomplishment went unremarked upon in light of the empathic victory and the strong play of the team's crop of impressive rookies, a relentless defensive line and the strong play of QB Zach Wilson.
"That's like I had no idea," Mosley said on Wednesday. "It's pretty cool. I always see those type of accolades, you know for other guys. It's been a long time, so it was cool. So, just a lot of hard work and perseverance. Me obviously, I can't give it all to myself. All glory to God, family, friends, everybody in Baltimore and here. I've had injuries and it's been a battle the past two years to get back to where I'm at now and it's been a crazy ride."
At 30 and technically in his third season in Green & White, Mosley has staked out his place in the middle of a young and improving defense and carved out a place in the heart of Jets fans. After sustaining a season-ending injury two games into the 2019 season, then opting out of the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mosley returned like gangbusters last season, playing in 16 games and leading the team with 168 tackles. He has added to his legendary career through five weeks of the 2022 NFL season.
"You really don't think of it once you're in the thick of things, it's second nature," he said. "We get a little time in the offseason, get back into the grind, get your body right and before you know it we're back in season. We're already in Week 6 and it feels like we just got started. When you're doing something you love, you don't think about that kind of stuff [missing time because of injuries], you just want to put time in and try to be as successful as you can."
Through five games, consecutive heart-stopping road victories and the team's first AFC East win in 13 games, Mosley again leads the Jets in tackles (51 total, 30 solo). His total is 22 more than the No. 2 tackler, fellow LB Kwon Alexander, and Mosley has topped 10 tackles in all but one game this season (7 at Cleveland).
Sunday's game, however, presents perhaps the biggest challenge of the season so far. This week there will be no inexperienced QB across the line as the Jets will face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' potent rushing and passing attack.
And as well as the defense played last week, it still allowed Miami RB Raheem Mostert 113 yards on 18 carries as the Dolphins rushed for 137 overall, much of it as the Jets lost containment on the flanks.
"I can help the guys from a schematic point, and I have to be better at play-calling," defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said on Thursday. "And we have to play better, set edges consistently. All those things happen and you can try to make them [the Packers] more one-dimensional, but if the run game is rolling they have play action, and all of it is alive. Then it can be tough."
Mosley added: "It's going to be a big test for the run game and to step up against a future Hall of Fame quarterback [Rodgers]. It's going to be an execution type of game. All the coverages, all the blitzes ... he's seen them all."
See the top photos from Thursday's practice leading up to the road game in Green Bay.
Mosley, like everyone else on the planet who has seen the magic Rodgers is capable of, knows a trip to Lambeau Field is a challenge. The Packers have won 15 consecutive regular-season games in northern Wisconsin. As Mosley pointed out, one thing working in the Jets' favor could be ... the weather.
"Any time you go to a stadium with so much history, especially in the NFL you can feel it," said Mosley, who knows a bit about rabid crowds having played in college for Alabama at Bear Bryant Stadium. "In the locker room, that Lambeau Leap, the crowd's going to be in. Lucky for us it's not going to be too cold [forecast high of 50 degrees]. We're getting there at the right time."
Facing Rodgers and his new group of WRs, which includes Romeo Doubs, Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard and TE Robert Tonyan, will be an extreme test for young Jets defenders like CB Sauce Gardner.
"Some guys have been here a few years," Mosley said. "You go back to my first year, we've come a long way. A lot of people sacrificed to get the team to where it is now. Credit to everybody and the people upstairs who brought in the right people to get to where we are now."