Jets middle linebacker C.J. Mosley appeared in his first NFL game in nearly two years in Week 1 at Carolina, but Sunday’s home opener against the Patriots will be special for the veteran for multiple reasons.
Most notably, it will be Mosley’s first game at MetLife Stadium — and the Jets’ first with fans — since 2019, when he was limited to two appearances due to a season-ending groin injury. The four-time Pro Bowler also opted out of last season due to family concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was excited to play last week, just to return to play football. But to be back in front of the home crowd, have all the fans rocking and we’re going to be in all white [uniforms], it’s going to be real pretty,” the 29-year-old Mosley said after practice Friday in Florham Park. “So I’m very excited, and very excited to hear the [J-E-T-S] chant, as well.
“I would assume, if not me, everyone’s going to have chills hearing that. I just know it’s going to be rocking. Especially having all the fans back. … We have a division opponent, we have the Patriots. We have all the check marks to make the Jets chant get louder and louder. Hopefully we’ll be hearing it loud and clear at the end of the game, as well. That’s the plan.”
Mosley said he felt “no rust at all” in registering four tackles (two solo) in last Sunday’s game against the Panthers, though he admitted he “missed a couple of tackles out in the open” during the Jets’ 19-14 loss. It marked the former Ravens star’s first game action since Week 7 in October 2019, when he re-injured himself six weeks after initially suffering the groin issue. The injury spoiled a Jets debut for Mosley that featured an early interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery.
He joked Friday that last week’s game nearly started similarly, when he got his hand on an early pass attempt by former teammate Sam Darnold.
“It would’ve been nice to start off the same way. But it was just fun to fly around again, fun to have that experience,” Mosley said. “When you get back in, you don’t really think about the little things that happen in the game.
“It was fun just to be back around all the action. … Obviously, we didn’t come out with the win; that would’ve been a lot better. But one thing about football, you always have the next opportunity.”
This week’s crack will come against Bill Belichick and New England’s impressive rookie quarterback, Mac Jones. The former Alabama star threw for 281 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions in a 17-16 season-opening loss to the Dolphins.
“Our main focus is doing our job. We know who he’s talking to in the headset, and who he’s being coached by,” Mosley said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s a rookie, doesn’t matter if he’s four or five or eight years in. They’re going to do their job, they’re going to execute it well.
“Our job is to out-execute them and be better at situational football every down. I feel like if we do that, we’ll have a chance to win this game.”
Jets head coach Robert Saleh added that facing a rookie quarterback will “not necessarily” open up or alter the defensive game plan from Week 1.
“These young quarterbacks are so advanced nowadays,” Saleh said. “Mac looked very, very impressive in his game against Miami, who throws a bunch of different looks and has a really good pass rush. I think they hit him nine times.
“You have to play your game. I’ve been on the other side of the coin where you have a rookie quarterback, or you have a backup quarterback in. So you try to trick him, but all you do is trick yourself. We have wrinkles within our scheme, but at the same time, it’s about us. It’s about how we prepare. It’s about how we attack our job and it’s about how we play to the best of our ability.”