From the moment he put on a Baltimore Ravens jersey, linebacker C.J. Mosley has been a stud. As a rookie, Mosley made 133 tackles and a Pro Bowl and followed it up with another 117 tackles his second year.
But despite all the tackles and incredible plays we’ve seen him make for the Ravens, they still need more from him. They need him to be a leader.
If you look at Baltimore’s defense last year you’ll see a defense that played unlike any Ravens’ defense in the past. They still had talented people on the unit and they still played the same style of defense they had in past. But for some reason all year it looked like they were missing something.
They were missing a vocal leader.
For literally the entire history of their franchise in Baltimore, the Ravens have had an outspoken centerpiece on their defense. It started with Ray Lewis back in 1996 and Terrell Suggs took over the face of the defense when Lewis retired in 2012.
Ultimately the Ravens’ defense has thrived off the energy that these two players have brought in the past. It gave the defense an identity and it gave the opposing team a focal point to fear. Most importantly, it gave everyone else on the defense an extra shot of confidence.
The importance was the most obvious last season. In the Ravens first game of the season, a 19-13 road loss to the Broncos, they played their best defensive game of the year.
But when Suggs left late in that game with a torn Achilles, everything changed.
Suddenly there was no energy in the Ravens’ defense. The confidence that had made them consistently good for so long was gone. And as a result, the Ravens gave up 37 points in their next game and over 20 in each of the next 8 after the Suggs injury.
Now the good news for the Ravens is that Suggs is healthy again and will be back on the field in 2016. The bad news is that he’ll turn 34 during the season and his ability to make it through a full year has to be in question.
So clearly the Ravens need a new vocal leader for their defense. They need the torch to be passed and a new person to become the face.
And that person has to be C.J. Mosley.
The bottom line is that Mosley is the Ravens best player on defense and is primed to be the leader already. Although he has never been an outspoken player, he needs to speak up more and it’s something he’ll need to start right away.
“I think it’s just a mindset thing,” Mosley said about being more outspoken in 2016. “You can always be a leader by example. But when you kind of feel like somebody needs to say something, that’s when you’ve got to be: ‘All right, this is my time to do that.’ Just something in general, whether it’s just talking to somebody on the side or seeing somebody struggling and talking to him and keeping his head up – being a leader any kind of way you can.”
It seems like Mosley saw they same thing everyone else saw from the Ravens’ defense last year. He saw a unit struggling to find an identity. A defense loaded with talent, but needing someone to guide them to be great.
In 2016, Mosley is poised to be that person.