By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
There were ten draft choices in rookie minicamp. Throw in undrafted free agents, players in on a tryout basis and practice-squad players from last season, and that number balloons to 45 players overall. None of them, from Clowney on down, are handed anything. Berths in the starting lineup, spots on the 53-man roster, everything will be earned.
Louis Nix III, a nose tackle out of Notre Dame whom the team traded two picks to move up and grab in the third round, embodies the mentality being ingrained in the rookies. "I'm just trying to focus and trying to make this team."
Gone are the days of using an undeserved four-year $62 million extension as a means to make sure the psychologically fragile starting quarterback knows that he is "the guy."
Gone are the days of kickers who have never kicked in a single NFL game being allowed to go through training camp with no competition for their spot.
In O'Brien's world, there will be competition for every spot.
"That's one of the things we are really talking about here, is competition. When we begin the full minicamps, there will be competition at every single position," O'Brien said at his post-draft press conference.
There are no sacred cows on a 2-14 football team. None.
So here comes Bill O'Brien, the latest Bill Belichick head-coaching spawn to bring some variation of the Patriot Way to a stadium near you. The coaching graveyard is full of former Belichick assistants who have attempted to do likewise in other places — Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels, even O'Brien's defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel.
But O'Brien is an Ivy Leaguer, a learner, a preacher of intelligence. Good coaches learn from the failures of others. O'Brien's vision is clear.
You start the reconstruction by building an identity. When O'Brien removed the vestiges of individual accolades left by the previous regime, symbolically he was sweeping out the remnants of a bygone era. Comfort and reputed softness will be replaced with accountability and toughness.
All for one, one for all. Team.