So, when O'Shea met with the New England media last week, he was greeted with an obvious question: What in the name of Jerry Rice could you possibly teach a guy like Randy Moss?
"I think Randy is a player who is constantly trying to improve. That’s No. 1," said O'Shea, who is about four years and two months older than Moss. "That’s what is one of the unique things about Randy Moss. He’s always trying to get better within his skill set. That being in mind, he comes out to the practice field and really works extremely hard every day to improve. There’s still much to learn, that he can tell you he can learn more. He can do better, and that’s what he plans to do this year."
Despite his age, O'Shea has some decent credentials. He's been in football his whole life — and was Troy Brown's teammate at Marshall in the early 1990s — and has been coaching since 1996. O'Shea, who transferred from Marshall and graduated from Houston, was an assistant for the Cougars through 1999.
He then spent three years at Southern Mississippi, three years with the Kansas City Chiefs and three years with the Minnesota Vikings. Along the way, O'Shea has coached linebackers, tight ends, wide receivers and special teams, and his units have all experienced success.
New England is O'Shea's most high-profile job, both because of the organization's recent winning tradition and the caliber of receivers he has been afforded to coach. And it's a unique challenge, too, with prolific veterans such as Moss, Wes Welker and Torry Holt, and budding youngsters like Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate and Taylor Price.
That veteran leadership has made O'Shea's job easier because Moss, Welker and Holt are always eager to guide the team's young talent. Yet, O'Shea still has plenty to do on the field. During New England's four weeks of spring camp, O'Shea conducted wide receiver drills that focused almost exclusively on route running.
He'd point out things such as key areas of the field to target during routes — the hash marks or yardage markers, for example — and he would point out pockets in the zone for option routes, even without a defense present in the drill. The veteran wideouts, and even quarterback Tom Brady, would step in at times to add to the guidance.
"We're very fortunate to have that combination," O'Shea said. "The veteran players do a tremendous job of helping along the younger players. I definitely see that on a daily basis. It's one of the great things about having a combination of veteran players and younger players."
Just like it works to the advantage of the young players, it also benefits O'Shea's career. He insists he can still teach Moss a few things, but the instruction is reciprocal. O'Shea certainly wasn’t too proud to admit that, either.
"I’m very fortunate," O'Shea said. "I’ll be the first one to say I’m very fortunate to have the veteran wide receiver group that we do here. It’s beneficial as a coach. I learn from them. There’s things they share with me that we can provide our pass offense to help us. It’s very fortunate to have veteran leadership at the wide receiver position."
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