FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- There's a new coach, a new front office and a new everything at 1 Jets Drive. There's a starting over feel in the building, but don't dare mention the word "rebuilding" in the New York Jets' locker room.
I posed a rebuilding question to Darrelle Revis.
"No, I don't think it's a rebuilding year for us," Revis said matter-of-factly, letting the words hang in the air.
Suddenly, it felt like I had ventured to a dangerous part of Revis Island.
"Actually," he said with a laugh, "I'm going to stay away from that word."
He should. They all should.
The 2015 Jets are built to win now, and the players expect to win now. Anything less than a playoff berth will be disappointing. If the Jets finish 8-8 or 9-7 and fall short of the postseason for the fifth straight year, the powers-that-be might try to sell it as a year of progress under the new leadership tandem of Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan.
Don't buy it.
You don't amass the fifth-highest cash payroll in the NFL to be a $155 million also-ran.
You don't construct the oldest starting lineup in the AFC East (average age: 28.05) and say, "There's always next year."
The Jets will start the season Sunday against the Cleveland Browns with only one rookie in the lineup, Leonard Williams, and the only reason he's there is because Sheldon Richardson is serving a suspension. This is a mature, well-seasoned team, especially on offense, with several starters closer to the end of their careers than the beginning.
Frankly, I think there's too much uncertainty at quarterback for this team to make the playoffs. Otherwise, you could argue the Jets are ripe for the postseason. I asked left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson if he buys that description.
"I'm not going to make that statement, but what I will say is we have a very good team," he said. "When you're around guys who have played in the league a long time, they have a sense of professionalism. They know what it takes. They've done something that has allowed them to be in this league for a long time. To be an older guy, it means you have a certain value to the organization. That experience, you can't explain it. No matter how talented you may be, that experience is indispensable."
The Jets have a lot of players in that category: Ferguson, Revis, Marshall, Cromartie, Nick Mangold and David Harris. They're 30-somethings, good players in the back end of their prime years. Their time is now. They're not interested in 2016 or 2017. All they need is a solid year out of Ryan Fitzpatrick and/or Geno Smith to galvanize the team.
"We know we can win now," Willie Colon said. "You've seen us play, you've seen our body language. Our urgency is high now. Plus, when you go 4-12, you never want to go back there. That's just bad football. It's not good, morale-wise. Once you've hit the bottom, you've got no choice but to go up. We've seen the bottom. We've seen it in its ugly form. The only way to get better is to go straight up, and that's what our intentions are."
There are 34 Jets holdovers from last season, which means two-thirds of the roster experienced the misery of 2014. That could be a good thing or a bad thing. Colon believes the experience steeled the resolve of the team.
"We're not the team that people feel like they're going to have a day on," he said. "We're a good team. You're going to have to take us to deep waters to beat us."
I think Todd Bowles is the right coach at the right time -- the ideal personality for the madness of the New York market -- but you never really know about coaches until they do it. This much we know: Bowles was a terrific coordinator, and he has the right coaching pedigree. He has a little Bill Parcells and a little Bruce Arians -- his mentors -- in him. That's a good start, but he's still an unknown.
It's hard to predict playoffs for a team with a rookie coach and a less-than-ideal quarterback situation, but that's not the vibe in the locker room. This team is counting on its experience. The marketing slogan might be, "Stronger, faster, greener," but there's nothing green about this team, other that its uniform.
"We have a bunch of mature guys in here, players that have made a name for themselves in this league, guys who have a lot of respect from their peers," Revis said. "It gives us a chance to rack up more wins this season."