Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange and Olivia Landis will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What will a healthy return of C.J. Mosley mean to the Jets defense?
EA: When Mosley went down against Buffalo, I immediately thought that losing him for a long period of time would be more damaging to the team that dropping a divisional contest in Week 1. In the sole two-plus quarters we saw a healthy Mosley play with the Green & White, he was the most impactful player on the field. The Jets were a good defense last season, finishing No. 2 against the run (86.9 YPG), No. 5 in yards/play (5.0) and No. 7 both in total defense (323.1 YPG) and 1st downs allowed (302). They were a middle-of-the-pack unit in the scoring, pass defense and takeaways categories, ranking 16th (22.4 PPG), 17th (236.2 YPG) and 18th (21) respectively. Mosley, who was recently praised by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for staying active and energized and leading the team behind the scenes, told reporters he can now run and cut the way he needs to play his position. The instinctive Mosley will be atop the depth chart for an ILB group that is perhaps the deepest unit on the team. In 79 career games, Mosley has 10 INTs, 6 FF, 6 FR and 37 pass defenses. His return would mean the Jets are getting back an elite player, an alpha dog who can change games.
EG: A lot. Mosley showed a glimpse of what he brings to the defense in his first three quarters in green and white with a pick-six, fumble recovery and 6 tackles. He's the quarterback of the defense and allows everyone around him to play faster because he sets everyone up in the right position. Mosley, a four-time Pro Bowler, is in charge of aligning the defense and has a lot of freedom to make different calls around the line of scrimmage. Despite only playing two games last season, he never missed a single meeting or install. General manager Joe Douglas has frequently talked about his mission to build the best culture in sports and head coach Adam Gase referred to Mosley last offseason as a culture changer. Mosley is somewhat reserved and leads by example, but inside linebackers coach Frank Bush called him an "alpha" that his teammates listen to whether he speaks or not. I think Mosley's impact extends further than just the defense, but he's a big piece to have back in the fold in 2020.
RL: Apologies for stealing a slogan for the Jets' MLB from the DBs coach, but Dennard Wilson said recently, "Obviously, the things we're measured by on defense are points allowed and takeaways." Fifty-six NFL linebackers have played in at least 72 games since 2014. When Mosley was on the field, his Ravens/Jets teams allowed 20.24 points/game in his 79 games played, 11th-best among that LB group. Not bad, but more impressive are Mosley's 10 interceptions and seven opponent fumble recoveries in that span. Those 17 personal takeaways equates to .215 TAs/game, the No. 1 average among those 56 LBs. What a healthy Mosley will provide Gregg Williams and the Jets defense will be a stingier unit in points allowed and a more bountiful D in taking the ball away from opponents.
OL: The return of a healthy C.J. Mosley may just be one of the most highly anticipated storylines for the 2020 Jets, and that's mainly due to the small taste of excellence the middle linebacker gave fans back in Week 1 last season. In his Green & White debut, the Pro Bowl LB came out hot against the Bills, recording 1 pick-six, 1 FR and 2 PDs — one of the Jets' top defensive performances in 2019. Mosley has totaled 10 INTs and 7 FRs over his career, making him one of the league's elite LBs who will be a critical piece to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' unit. A healthy Mosley can provide even more depth and top-notch experience for a defensive squad that — despite being plagued with injuries last season — finished No. 7 in the NFL in yards allowed.