Ron Rivera isn't even through his first training camp with the Washington Football Team, so his rebuild of the franchise — which he's projected as a multi-year process — has barely gotten started.
Even so, he's already seeing signs of progress — signs that outsiders wouldn't even notice.
"It’s the little things," Rivera told the media on Friday. "It’s as basic as just as when you’re walking through the locker room and you see guys picking up stuff and throwing it in the garbage. You see the way guys are handling themselves, pushing each other, taking responsibility."
"One of the things that Coach [Mike] Ditka told me, he always felt good about us when he saw us take ownership," he said. "That’s part of the culture, you have to take ownership and be responsible. Those are the things that you look for. I think those are the important things."
When compared to Rivera's overall goal of leading Washington to sustained winning, players tossing some trash away feels infinitesimal. To him, however, it's not. He cares about even the most minute details, which is a quality that many of the organization's recent, key figures lacked.
Beyond the desire to have a group that takes care of even the simplest tasks, the two-time Coach of the Year also wants to develop one that's more together. That won't be easy, especially in an organization that's grown so accustomed to losing, and losing, and losing, yet he's pleased with the early steps in that area, too.
"When you’re struggling and you’re coming off some tough times, the tendency is to be really about yourself because: ‘If we’re not doing well, I’m going to get mine,’" Rivera said. "Honestly, I kind of felt that early on that there was a little selfishness."
"But as we’ve gone through this, you’ve started to see the guys opening up with one another," he continued. "You see the older guys putting their arms around the young guys and talking to them and saying, ‘Hey, you know what, this is how you need to do it. Take a look at this.’ That to me is encouraging."
Moments like Morgan Moses pausing his participation in 1-on-1s to discuss a past rep with Chase Young or Kendall Fuller and Landon Collins meshing in the secondary prove to Rivera he's onto something.
And on a larger scale, his version of camp has been much more physical and much more high-tempo than past editions, as the 58-year-old works to instill his values in a roster that he's only just beginning to mold. Change is occurring.
Of course, there is plenty of reason to be skeptical that this next, new chapter in the Burgundy and Gold's history will be the turnaround. Seriously, pick whichever one you want: All of the chaos going on above Rivera's head, all of the past hires who failed despite having a plan like Rivera does, a talent pool that is currently near the bottom of the sport, and so on.
Rivera's a smart and successful person, and he's absolutely aware of all of those above challenges. He's not necessarily trying to take them head on right now, however.
Instead, his goal is to address things on a smaller scale, and in doing so, eventually chip away at those bigger obstacles.
"One of the things that I always tell the guys: ‘If what we did last year you think is good enough, it’s not. You’re wrong,'" Rivera said. "It’s not good enough because it was only good enough for 3-13. So, we’ve got to get past that and get to where we want to go."