It started the first day of mini-camp last month.
Joe Bugel took the offensive linemen to one side of the field, apart from the rest of the team, and stood in the center of a huddle. He barked out instructions as the players stood at attention, then oversaw the unit in a series of blocking drills.
Bugel, the architect of "The Hogs," was back on the field, back in his element--as if nothing had ever changed.
One thing is certain: the Redskins' assistant head coach-offense has made an immediate impression on his new linemen.
"I don't know if you can really characterize him," center Cory Raymer said. "He's like a cross between a guy from 'The Sopranos' and maybe Shakespeare. He gets on one thing and then it's right back to another thing. He's been great so far."
Bugel, who first coached with the Redskins from 1981-89, has always had great relationships with his linemen. Ask any of "The Hogs," from Joe Jacoby to Russ Grimm to Mark May, and they'll tell you countless stories of "Buges."
He's a coach who earns loyalty and respect.
"Buges is a little bit of everything--in your face, on your back, but very supportive," Raymer said. "And when it gets a little dull, he starts cracking jokes and talking about the old times. He's a lot of fun to be around and he has such a wealth of knowledge in him."
Added right tackle Jon Jansen: "Everybody is pretty excited about playing for him. We're all trying to prove to him--and all of the coaches--why we're here and why we should stay."
For Bugel, establishing a rapport with players is all about establishing chemistry--a word that has been discussed often around Redskins Park in recent years.
Bugel's approach suggests that team chemistry is not relegated solely to the players. It starts with the coaching staff.
Asked how the players were responding to the intensity of the new coaching staff, Bugel said: "I don't think we could have asked for a better response. I know Joe [Gibbs] made a comment during mini-camp, 'This football team deserves to win because the work ethic is unbelievable right now.' They were flying around the field."
Bugel returned to Washington with 26 years of coaching experience--including five seasons as a NFL head coach (four with the Phoenix Cardinals, one with Oakland).
In 20 seasons as a NFL assistant coach, Bugel's teams have posted a record of 170-136, with 13 winning seasons, eight playoff appearances and two Super Bowl championships.
When Gibbs called Bugel last January, both men knew what to expect of each other.
Bugel said his wife, upon learning of her husband's intention to return to the Redskins with Gibbs, told him, "Pack a toothbrush and three pairs of underwear and I'll see you in about five years."
In the past few months, Gibbs, Bugel and the rest of the coaches have mostly been huddled at Redskins Park, watching film of free agents and college prospects.
Gibbs and Bugel have known each other for more than two decades and they have always been on the same page when it comes to evaluating players.
"We use the word Redskin quite frequently and we say we're looking for Redskins," Bugel said. "Joe believes it--we all believe it. It's a trickle-down thing.
"I think eventually the players will understand the levels of intensity [the coaches] have," Bugel added. "As they get to know Joe more and more, they will know what he is about."