Losing C.J. Mosley for the season a big hit to Jets’ defense

This is the way of the world now, in all our professional sports, players in fear of the virus opting out, young players, older players, even star players.

The virus hit the Jets on Saturday, and hit the Jets hard.

This was going to be the return from a lost season with a vengeance from a debilitating groin injury by inside linebacker C.J. Mosley.

He opts out for family health reasons instead.

It means there will be more of a burden on Adam Gase and Sam Darnold to lift the Jets and help defensive coordinator’s Gregg Williams troops.

No one can, or should begrudge him, even as Jets fans moan that for an $85 million free agent, for $51M guaranteed dollars, Mosley has been on the field wearing his Jets 57 jersey for five quarters. He was due $6M in base salary after receiving a $10M roster bonus in March.

For someone who loves the game as much as Mosley does, you know it had to pain him to leave his team and teammates behind.

“When you’re gone from something you love so much, it’s kind of like when you first learn how to ride a bike,” Mosley told ESPN in May. “You just don’t want to stop.”

C.J. Mosley
C.J. MosleyAP

Unlike Jamal Adams, Mosley wanted to be part of the solution and he was that way with the Ravens long before he got paid.

Which makes Mosley, as quiet as Adams is loud, a bigger loss for the Jets in some ways than Adams was.

There is no argument Adams was the best player on the team, but Mosley was the brains behind Williams’ defense.

While Adams is a fiery leader on the field, Mosley provides businesslike leadership on and off the field. It is no wonder why the Ravens tried to convince him to stay. The guy was a four-time Pro Bowler in his five seasons in Baltimore.

He is a tackling machine. He and Panthers ILB Luke Kuechly were the only two players in the NFL with 500 tackles, eight sacks and eight interceptions since 2014 when he joined the Jets.

Gase was more enthused with Mosley’s signing than he was with Le’Veon Bell’s.

“He wanted me to be the centerpiece of the defense to kind of have a leadership role on and off the field,” Mosley once said. “So I feel like my five years in Baltimore kind of put me in this position to be a leader on and off the field and I’m excited to start this new journey.”

Mosley may have been a free agent signing by former GM Mike Maccagnan, may very well have been too rich for current GM Joe Douglas’ pragmatic blood, but you can’t argue that he is one of those tough, smart, unselfish players who can mean everything to a healthy, if not winning, culture.

When Douglas was hired, he defined for me his idea of his kind of football player: “Resilient, loves football, has a burning passion for football, coachable, able to handle criticism, able to come back from defeat, very smart, can think under fire, able to stay poised under fire.”

That describes C.J. Mosley.

So Bradley McDougald replaces Adams. Perhaps Avery Williamson, who missed last season with a torn ACL suffered in garbage time of meaningless preseason game, can replace Mosley.

The Jets are fortunate that Williams knows defense. And Quinnen Williams should make more of an impact in his second season. Gregg Williams will keep showing his boys photos of lions in the socially distanced meeting rooms and make sure they come out roaring.

Douglas got a terrific haul for Adams. But Mosley opting out after the jettisoning of Adams to Seattle is a 1-2 gut punch that makes you think even more that 2020 will be a rebuilding season with more cap space now available in 2021. Gang Groan, earlier than usual.

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