These are the times that try Jets' souls, players as well as fans. But C.J. Mosley, seemingly immune to the gloom, has a recipe for his teammates to refer to for the final four games of 2021.
"We know we're not going to the playoffs, we know the season is done for the most part. But if you come to work with the mindset that nothing's going to happen, you're going to regress," the veteran linebacker told Eric Allen and Leger Douzable on The Official Jets Podcast this week. "Find something to get better at, whether it's in your own game, something you're trying to study, a new play that's come in that you want to perfect because you know you're going to get the ball in that possession.
"Whatever you can do mentally and physically, just make yourself that much better each day. I think that's going to put us in the right direction. ... You're going to find yourself getting better, and your teammates are going to see you and want to do better because when they see you still grinding and not really listening to all the outside noise, that's going to make them want to do better."
Something suggests that Mosley was talking about himself as much as his teammates. He certainly launched himself into the Saints and didn't stop until he had 17 tackles, his most in any game in his stellar NFL career and the most by a Jet since David Harris' heyday over a decade ago.
Not that Mosley was counting them off against the Saints.
"I had no idea how many tackles I had. I didn't know until I was in the cold tub doing my normal routine after the game and Quincy [Williams] told me, 'Hey, man, you had 17 tackles,' " Mosley recalled, perhaps with a subtle shiver. "It was cool to find that out. Prior to this game, my first high was 15 and that was against New Orleans as well. I guess I just have good games against them.
"I felt I was seeing the game really well, seeing things happen before the snap. This type of year, you think about teams and defenses and you want to be playing your best ball in December and January when it gets cold. I've just been trying to focus every week, ever day, trying to advance my craft, so I was happy to see the productivity working out."
The productivity is as much about Mosley's mind as his body.
"At the end of the day, l consider myself still an old-school linebacker," he said. "I'm all about the contact, the power. When I'm asked to be in coverage, I play my part in that role. But linebackers are built on game-wrecking plays and also being able to change the game within the game.
"The physical part, that will come and go. My body will know when it's done. But as far as the mental part, I feel I'm one of the smartest linebackers in this league, and I pride myself in trying to study the opponent and tell myself who can I outstudy on the other side of the ball to get in the best position I can be in."
Mosley has already started to implement his plan for Sunday's game at Miami. Part of the plan is to make it personal, not against the Dolphins but against himself. He remembers last month at MetLife, with the score tied at 14-14 and the 'Fins facing third-and-goal at the 5 early in the final quarter. He had RB Myles Gaskin out of the backfield, but made a tiny but telling misstep on Gaskin's cut. Instead of the visitors having to settle for a field goal, Gaskin took Tua Tagovailoa's toss and toppled into the end zone. Miami went ahead, 21-14, and won, 24-17.
"The chip on my shoulder for this week is I feel I lost the game against Miami the first time we played them," Mosley said. "So when I come to work every day, that's my mindset — I'm not going to be the one to lose this game. That's my chip, and everybody's going to see that and feel that when I'm here this week, and hopefully that rubs off on people the right way."