What a rookie year for a young prodigal middle linebacker. I don't think a single person expected such a performance. Well, everybody but Ozzie Newsome. Then again, I don't think he is a just a person since we all know him more as the Wizard of Oz.
C.J. Mosley came into the known iron strong defense of Baltimore on a secret mission: Come in and hit everybody and wreck the division. Don't back down from big name running backs Le'Veon Bell and Giovanni Bernard. Don't let the divisional tight ends of Gresham, Miller, and Cameron out-speed you. Don't allow anybody, anywhere, at any time. Mosley did his damnedest of conquering exactly that.
We all remember draft day last year. Sitting back thinking of snagging Zack Martin for our previous season of dismay. Or the possible upgrade at safety. I was desperate for HaHa Clinton-Dix. After the Cowboys coin flipped their way to an already top five guard in the league I knew we were easily grabbing HHCD. The fall to us was perfect to me for both Need and Ozzie's Best Player Available strategy. I was already breaking out the high fives. And then we took his middle linebacker teammate instead. Whuuuu?
Let's all celebrate I wasn't in the office instead of Ozzie. And now look ahead to the shining star the Ravens possess.
Next season Mosley will be just as tough, but as a growing man, he will be possibly faster, stronger, and no doubt smarter after a full 18 games and a Pro Bowl attendance marked on his checklist. My expectations will be even higher.
1. I want a clean off-season. This goes for everybody in Baltimore gear. This goes for everybody in Pittsburgh gear. This goes for every single individual wearing an NFL logo. Clean offseason. No dumb DUI charges. I know that if you called any person in Baltimore and said, "Hey, it's C.J. Mosley, I'm at ____ bar and too drunk to drive. Can you come pick me up?" Charm City would pick you up and take you home. Please, please, please let us win the quiet offseason arrest belt.
2. Come to camp on time and already prepared. I don't have much worry about Mosley arriving overweight or slow. A young kid, possible chip on his shoulder from the DRoY snub, and hoping to prove he was more deserving than the other young studs Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack. I don't want to read he is failing the conditioning test. Stay in shape. Come to dominate. Be the best linebacker.
3. Racking up the same stats. Mosley put on a show. Announcers called his name out on every single defensive play it sounded. "Tackle by number 57." "In on the play CJ Mosley" "Who else, but C.J. Mosley." I expect the same.
4. Becoming more of a leader. This one is tough. The Ravens have great veteran leaders on the squad. Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Daryl Smith are intelligent, outspoken, and passionate leaders who run this team smoothly. I don't know if the Ravens need another voice. However, I feel Mosley is going to become the leader very quickly. Establish that you are able to march headfirst with your team. Not sit from the back. Make them follow.
5. The biggest hole in the stars game was coverage. He effectively pass rushed when Dean Pees sent him towards the quarterback. He effectively stopped all rushing attack. But time and time again the checkdown passes were brutal for his skillset. Daryl Smith is an amazing coverage backer. I expect Mosley to follow suit and learn the tools of the trade, and become better in the pass coverage category.
6. A second Pro Bowl. This is going to become difficult. Next year, two All-Pro linebackers are coming back. NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis will both be healthy, and turned on full power to come on strong for the 49ers. I'm not sure if Mosley makes the pro bowl with both of these guys playing last year. I think he does, but the name recognition already is what hurts the votes. But I really expect Mosley to come in firing hot, and ready to shut down everything next season. Maybe even outshine Willis against the 49ers this season.