ARIZONA -- The NFL owners meeting officially begins Monday morning but most top personnel arrive Sunday, which is a laid-back day that often offers a chance for old friends to catch up. Such was the case for second-year Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien and his wife Colleen, and New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio and his wife Kathleen, as they sat together in the plaza area of the Arizona Biltmore for an extended time on a beautiful afternoon.
The scene captured the essence of a Sunday at the NFL owners meeting, and also how O'Brien's Patriots ties remain strong as he works to implement a program that has some notable New England elements to it.
A few minutes after seeing the O'Briens and Caserios enjoying some rare time to reminisce, we caught up with Texans owner Bob McNair about what he's noticed with O'Brien and the Patriots-type approach he's brought to Houston.
"I think one of the main benefits that he brings is his knowledge of the kind of dedication it takes to win on a consistent basis, because you can see it with the Patriots," the affable McNair said. "They’ve been very consistent. Of course, having a quarterback like [Tom] Brady helps you be consistent. You’ve had great coaching too. Robert Kraft is a good friend; I’ve always had a lot of respect for the organization. But I think coach O’Brien understands what it takes to win and he’s committed to that. He likes certain types of players who bring a similar commitment. He tries to bring those players in, like [Vince] Wilfork -- he’s got that kind of dedication and commitment to winning -- and doing whatever it takes to win.”
McNair revealed that the Texans had hoped to sign Wilfork the last time he was a free agent, in 2010. McNair envisions Wilfork's value to the Texans will come, in part, from bringing a little bit more of a Patriots-type approach to their culture.
"They know the price you have to pay for success," McNair said of players coming from a successful program like New England. "A lot of the kids are great athletes and in high school and in college, they didn’t have to work as hard. They didn’t have to have the dedication you have to have in the NFL. Sometimes they learn it quickly, sometimes they don’t learn it. Those that do learn generally go on and are going to be winners. It’s so competitive in this league, you can’t limit yourself to doing just what is asked of you. You have to go beyond that.
"I think that’s what Bill O’Brien keeps preaching to our players: ‘Look, you have to go out and do things on your own. You have to study film on your own. You tight ends need to get together on your own. You receivers need to get with the quarterbacks on your own. Don’t wait for us constantly to insist that you get together or have an official meeting.' It’s that kind of an attitude and getting players who will hold the other players accountable. You can’t just have coaches holding the players accountable. Players have to hold players accountable.”