But while star players such as defensive tackle Quinnen Williams or cornerback Sauce Gardner get most of the attention, they are not the only key cogs in the team’s defensive machinery. For New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, for example, linebacker C.J. Mosley is as important as any member of the group.
Speaking about the Jets defense earlier this week, Belichick name-dropped several players. But while most were mentioned in passing, Mosley received a comparatively extensive breakdown — a clear sign of respect from the Patriots’ head coach.
“Defensively, they’re aggressive,” Belichick said. “Certainly, Gardner has been a great addition for them last year. They have a real good front, disruptive front. [Jermaine] Johnson’s playing well. They drafted [Will] McDonald, obviously Williams, [John] Franklin-Myers, those guys are tough.
“They play about nine guys up there and they all play, and they’re all disruptive. But, I think Mosley is the guy who is really a key guy for them on the defense.”
Belichick then went on to explain what made the 31-year-old such important a player for New York. Essentially, it’s his ability to do most everything well that is needed from a linebacker in today’s game.
“He’s one of the best, most instinctive players in the league. Always a problem,” he said. “Really hard guy to fool or to get on anything. He makes tackles on the line of scrimmage, and he breaks up passes 15, 20 yards downfield. So, really, really good player. One of the best we’ll see all year. One of the best in the league, for sure.”
Against a linebacker with C.J. Mosley's IQ and range, Mac Jones will need to be careful with his eye discipline + timing, and the #Patriots have to get a body on him in the ground game— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) September 20, 2023
NE's struggled to get blockers to the second level effectively https://t.co/Rp52KPCrM1 pic.twitter.com/7mwQ276bcl
A first-round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2014, Mosley took his talents to New York five years later. Signing a five-year, $85 million contract, he joined the team in hopes of becoming a cornerstone of their defense.
While that did not happen right away — he was limited to only two games over his first two seasons — he has since developed into what the team was investing in. Mosley, the Jets’ defensive on-field signal caller, has become a reliable second-level defender in terms of availability and performance as well as from a leadership perspective.
As the team captain goes, so does the Jets defense as a whole.