NORTH CALDWELL, N.J. -- Now that Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis are gone, David Harris is the longest-tenured member of the New York Jets. He has witnessed a lot of stuff in 10 seasons, but nothing quite like this: A young, rebuilding team, facing dreadfully low outside expectations.
Nevertheless, he likes the new vibe in the locker room -- he feels change was needed -- and he believes this team could pull a fast one on the critics who say the Jets are doomed to another disastrous season.
"They can say what they want," the respected linebacker said Monday at his charity golf outing. "We know we didn't have the best year last year. We are a young team, but I think we're going to surprise people."
The Jets don't have as much big-name talent as a year ago, but some of that talent was old and complacent, contributing to the 5-11 finish. Now it's all about the youth movement, and Harris could feel the difference on Monday, the first day veterans and rookies were together in the locker room (this was before they turned out en masse to Harris' event).
Harris said the mood was upbeat in the locker room, with rookies playing music, dancing and enjoying a light work day.
"They're not shy," he said of the rookies, laughing.
At 33, Harris is the second-oldest player on the team, trailing only quarterback Josh McCown. Harris and long snapper Tanner Purdum are the only holdovers from the Jets' last playoff team, 2010. Harris said it was weird not seeing the names of Mangold and Revis on locker stalls.
"It's kind of crazy because I don't feel myself as being one of the old guys," Harris said. "Thank goodness Josh came."
The "harsh reality" of the NFL, as Harris called it, is off-season turnover. Not many players in the league have long-term security. When a team suffers a miserable year and the environment turns dark, almost toxic ... well, change is inevitable.
"Anytime you go 5-11," Harris said, "something needed to change."
One of the promising young players, second-year linebacker Jordan Jenkins, said the team will have a chip on its shoulder in 2017. He said the objective is to have a strong start, changing the culture ASAP.
"We want to establish a new name for the Jets, in my opinion," he said.
Second-year quarterback Christian Hackenberg said there's "a unique dynamic" in the locker room.
"We're all not that far removed from college, and you know how that atmosphere is," he said. "That just helps the team in general. It gives everyone a voice to say something, to step up, if something needs to be said."
"We're trying to change the culture," Harris said.
Harris was joined by Coach Todd Bowles and 40-plus teammates at his annual outing, which raises money for the Give the Kids Hope Foundation and North Jersey Underprivileged Children. Proceeds will help renovate Camp Hope in West Milford, New Jersey, a summer camp for underprivileged kids.