C.J. Mosley raised more than a few eyebrows when he declared over the summer that he believed the Jets would contend for a playoff spot this season.
There still is significant work to do to end the NFL’s longest current postseason drought (11 years), but the 6-3 Jets can take another step in that direction with Sunday’s visit to New England to face the nemesis Patriots, who have won the last 13 meetings between the teams.
“Personally, we play this game, I play this game, to get in these playoff moments, to be playing in January, to be playing football and be relevant late in the season,” Mosley said after practice Thursday in Florham Park. “Easier said than done, obviously, but just based off what we saw this offseason, going into OTAs, minicamp, you could just see the work ethic. You could feel the camaraderie that everyone was playing together. You could see everybody was bonding together.
“When we finished minicamp, I just had a good feeling. I had a really good feeling about our team, about the defense, about the guys that came here and wanted to do something. It’s just what I truly believed that we are a team that could make the playoffs, and we’ve put ourselves in position this first half. So now we just have to go into the second half, keep our head down and keep executing and play ball.”
The Jets rebounded following their latest loss to Bill Belichick and the Pats — a 22-17 home defeat on Oct. 30 — with a rousing win over another AFC East foe, the Bills, the following week ahead of last weekend’s bye.
Belichick has gone out of his way multiple times to praise Mosley’s play in the previous meeting, saying this week that the veteran linebacker “definitely is as good as anybody we play against as a player” and that he “gets things right for them like 99.9 percent of the time.”
Belichick also has said that the four-time Pro Bowler often was calling out the Patriots’ offensive plays before they ran them.
“It’s definitely an honor coming from a coach of his stature,” Mosley said. “He’s seen a lot of football, seen a lot of players, been around ball a long time. Any time you get a nod or a pat on the back from one of those type of coaches, you’re always appreciative. But it’s in one [ear], out the other because you know we got them this weekend. But it’s a lot of respect for him, obviously.”
Asked if he thought the legendary coach was trying to soften him up with praise, Mosley laughed and replied: “You never know. You never know the tactics. Like I said, you appreciate it, but you take it with a grain of salt, man. He’s seen a lot of great players play, and I put a lot of time and effort into my style of play. So it definitely feels good to be recognized for it, but you understand the nature of the business.”
Mosley, who leads the Jets with 55 solo and 88 combined tackles, added he believes he can tell what type of play is coming “more times than not.”
“I always try to anticipate,” Mosley said. “I don’t want to be out there just guessing. … I really try to see formations and try to get a tell whether it’s from a lineman, from a quarterback, from a check, or a wide receiver being in a certain type of stance.
“It’s all little things like that. It does take a lot of studying to see those kinds of things. When you’ve been playing football for a long time you start to see little things.”
Similar to the things that told him the Jets could be a playoff team for the first time since 2010.
“We’ve still got a long way to go,” said Mosley, who made the postseason with the Ravens in 2014 and 2018. “You can’t be too high or too low on what we’ve done. This record can change really quick and everything can change really quick. … Now we just have to make sure we stay focused on what we have to do and play ball.”
This story originally appeared on NYPost