Year Two in the Brave New World of the NFL offseason begins this morning for the Seahawks.
As was the case last year, complements of the CBA that came out of the 136-day lockout in 2011, the Seahawks’ program is starting later and will be divided into three phases. Everything begins with a team meeting this morning, followed by the players taking a series of functional movement tests that were initiated last year by director of health and player performance Sam Ramsden to help determine just what it is individual players need to work on as the offseason progresses.
“I thought everything went well last year under the new guidelines,” said Chris Carlisle, the Seahawks’ head strength and conditioning coach. “We’re going to compete in everything we do, and we’re going to do it better than it’s ever been done.”
Carlisle then smiled before adding, “You’ve never heard those words come out of anyone’s mouth, have you?”
Well yes, because those are cornerstones phrases in the philosophy of coach Pete Carroll.
“We’re very excited to get started,” Carlisle said. “I look forward to seeing the guys come back and seeing where they’re at physically. And you gauge your program accordingly to where they’re at.”
During Phase 1, the players will work four times a week for two weeks with Carlisle and his staff – Jamie Yanchar and Mondray Gee. In Phase 2, which begins April 29 and runs through May 17, Carroll and his staff will get involved on a limited basis for on-field drills.
There also is a rookie minicamp May 10-12.
Phase 3, which begins May 20, will include 10 OTA workouts and conclude with a mandatory minicamp June 11-13.
“The first year, it was getting used to me – what my program was compared to what they’d done in the past,” said Carlisle, who came to the Seahawks from USC with Carroll in 2010. “The second year, we actually had nothing (during the lockout). Last year, it was getting used to the new CBA.
“This year, it should be a lot smoother.”
The offseason program might begin later than in the pre-lockout period, but the Seahawks were able to make the most of their reduced time last year – when they posted the third-best regular-season record in club history (11-5) and won the franchise’s first road playoff game since 1983.
“I kind of like the way it went,” strong safety Kam Chancellor said. “We started out with the whole team just working out together, pushing each other to get stronger, faster, quicker, smarter in the classroom. Then you just keep progressing to the minicamp. Being together in the voluntary workouts, we know how to push each other, we know our strengths and weaknesses.
“So the way it is now, with the progressive stages, it’s a better route.”
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Feb. 4:
1990: Dave Krieg completes 15 of 23 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown, but the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 27-21. Jerry Gray, a cornerback for the Rams who would go on to coach the Seahawks’ defensive backs in 2010, is named MVP after returning an interception 51 yards for a TD and also registering seven tackles. Rufus Porter (two tackles) and Brian Blades (one reception) also represent the Seahawks in the game.
1996: Chris Warren leads the NFC with 43 rushing yards, but the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 20-13.
1998: Jim Johnson is named linebackers coach on Dennis Erickson’s staff. Johnson remains for only one season before becoming the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, but his impact on the Seahawks’ defense is apparent even after he leaves.
2010: First-year coach Pete Carroll announces his staff: Jeremy Bates (offensive coordinator), Gus Bradley (defensive coordinator), Brian Schneider (special teams coordinator), Kippy Brown (wide receivers), Luke Butkus (quality control/offensive line), Dave Canales (quality control/offense), Chris Carlisle (head strength and conditioning), Jedd Fisch (quarterbacks), Mondray Gee (assistant strength and conditioning), Alex Gibbs (offensive line), Jerry Gray (defensive backs), Kris Richard (assistant defensive backs), Rocky Seto (quality control/defense), Sherman Smith (running backs), Jeff Ulbrich (assistant special teams), Art Valero (assistant offensive line) and Jamie Yancher (assistant strength and conditioning).
2012: Cortez Kennedy, in his seventh year of eligibility and fourth year as a finalist, is elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection and member of the NFL Team of the Decade for the 1990s as a defensive tackle, Kennedy joins Steve Largent as the only career-long Seahawks player in the Hall.
The Seahawks wrapped up the first week of their offseason program today, and saying that strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle was happy with the players’ efforts tells only part of the story.
“I am very, very, very happy with the way things are going, the way they came in with the desire to work,” Carlisle said. “That’s evident. Our leadership is in place, with the players who are leading the effort, and the younger guys are learning from those older guys on how we do things here.”
Which is up-tempo. It’s how coach Pete Carroll practices. It’s how Carlisle and his staff – Jamie Yanchar and Mondray Gee – are conducting the weight-training and other conditioning drills that comprise the Phase 1 workouts.
“If you talk to some of the new guys, the biggest thing they mention is that the tempo is much different than they’re used to,” Carlisle said. “The tempo we run here is much quicker, and the reason why is our practice tempo is much quicker than most programs.”
Phase 1 of the revamped offseason program continues – and concludes – next week with workouts scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Phase 2, when the players can be on the field with the coaches, kicks off April 30.
A primary purpose of Phase 1 is to make sure the players are ready to make a seamless transition to the next phase, and the next phase and so on as the delayed and condensed offseason progresses.
“In order to get us ready to play at the highest level, we’ve got to prepare at the highest level,” Carlisle said. “You prepare at the highest level, to practice at the highest level, so you can play at the highest level. That’s something Pete told me back when we first got together in 2001 (at USC).”
It’s a method that Carlisle is preaching to the players – in words and actions. It’s a message that is being received.
“This first week has gone pretty well,” cornerback Roy Lewis said. “Coming in under the new rules of the new CBA, the program is conducive to trying to be successful early – as early as possible. The players do appreciate the time constraints, because we get out and still have time in our day, but we do get our work in.
“That’s the beauty of it.”