It was a move that C.J. Mosley wouldn’t have normally made, as changing the play call on the fly isn’t supposed to happen in the Jets’ defense.
“Once a play call goes in from the sidelines, we’re rolling,” head coach Robert Saleh said.
Mosley turned toward his defensive backs with the play clock ticking under five seconds, with the Tennessee Titans facing a third-and-6, with the two teams locked at 17 at the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter, and motioned with his hands.
He’d seen something — maybe in the Tennessee offense, maybe in the Jets’ defense — that he didn’t like. He made a check, Saleh said, and stationed the Jets into another defensive set before the Titans snapped the ball.
And the play unfolded just as Mosley thought it would: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, standing in the shotgun, “hitched” and defensive linemen disrupted the pocket, creating a sack opportunity that Quinnen Williams finished.
“[Mosley] made an executive decision,” Saleh said. “I’m glad he did.”
The third-down stop forced the Titans to punt, giving the ball back to the Jets for a drive that ended with a touchdown to regain the lead. Tennessee knotted the score again and sent the game into overtime, but Mosley continued his evolution within the Jets’ defensive system in their 27-24 overtime win by recording 13 tackles — the linebacker’s most in a game since joining the Jets before the 2019 season — and presenting a level of comfort needed to adjust their schemes on the fly.
“He’s like a cheat code,” Saleh said on Monday of the 29-year-old Alabama product. “His mind plays at a different level. He’s playing a different game, and he knew exactly what we needed to get into and he made the right call.”
When asked if that change is something he’d want Mosley to make more in the future, Saleh chuckled and said he doesn’t know about that. Since it worked, Mosley’s now a “genius.”
It’s a reminder of the second-team All-Pro status he reached when with the Baltimore Ravens. If it hadn’t worked, Mosley and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich likely would’ve had a post-play conversation about how Mosley the can’t stray from the plays that are signaled in.
Saleh said Mosley’s last-second call captured the importance of adjustments as the game progresses: the first quarter is about the prepared game plan, the second is “feeling each other out,” the third quarter is the adjustments, and then in the fourth “everything’s on the table.” That positioned Mosley to understand the situation that faced the Jets — with Tannehill standing in the shotgun and Derrick Henry perched to his right — and know the verbiage required to change everything on the fly.
“He’s the leader of the defense,” defensive back Javelin Guidry said, “and he’s smart, intellectual. Makes sure everyone’s right.”
The Jets finished with seven sacks against the Titans, their most in a game since 2017. Mosley, who opted out of last season and missed all but two games in 2019, contributed one early in the game, his first tackle-for-loss since joining the Jets and first solo sack since Jan. 3, 2016 — providing the defense, en route to its best game of the season, the injection of life it needed.
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