NY Jets: Why C.J. Mosley’s absence may not be as bad as it seems

NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets’ defense might be in better shape than most assume even without C.J. Mosley.

NY Jets‘ linebacker C.J. Mosley opted-out of the 2020 NFL season on Saturday for family health reasons. But Mosley’s absence might not totally hinder a defense that ranked in the top-10 in team DVOA last season, without him even playing.

It’ll be tough to replace the four-time Pro Bowler’s efficiency on the field, but, the Jets have done it before.

After Mosley walked off the field in Week 1 of last season against Buffalo with what was later disclosed as a groin injury, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams turned to Neville Hewitt to take the brunt of the work in the middle of the defense.

Week 1 didn’t turn out how Jets fans would’ve liked it to as the defense just wasn’t the same without the former Ravens linebacker out there commanding the forefront of the defense to victory.

Later in the season, Williams deployed the former undrafted free agent James Burgess to battle alongside Hewitt to hold down the middle.

While Burgess was more effective stopping the run and rushing the passer, the duo of Hewitt and Burgess provided a much-needed contrast at a position where versatility in both the run and the pass is vital to having a successful unit in the NFL.

Williams also sprinkled in then-rookie linebacker Blake Cashman who showed flashes in his first few games played as a pro.

The NY Jets made sure to solidify their linebacker depth in the offseason.

Heading into the 2020 offseason, general manager Joe Douglas seemed to make linebacker somewhat of a priority as he re-signed both Hewitt and Burgess to one-year deals, keeping them in New York through this upcoming season.

He also brought in former Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor on a one-year deal to help anchor a defense that’s depth at linebacker was already above-average compared to the rest of the league.

Let’s not forget Avery Williamson, who is slated to return to the starting lineup after missing all of 2019 with a torn ACL suffered in Week 2 of the preseason against Atlanta. Williamson’s versatility against both the run and pass gives the Jets a veteran option to lean on in crunch time.

The Jets have the depth to combat a loss like Mosley, who will surely be back in 2021.

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They’ve done it before, and they can do it now.