The Seahawks’ first minicamp of the year will begin Tuesday, and if you think it’ll feature three days of ho-hum practices, well, you might want to think again.
Thanks to competition — Coach Pete Carroll’s lifeblood and the central theme for his team — the workouts will be anything but monotonous and dreary. Every drill is spiced up with a head-to-head scoring system, fueling an intense and entertaining battle between individual players, position groups and the full offensive and defensive units. In Carroll’s system, a player or group wins and loses every snap, with the total number of victories adding up in the end to give each period and each practice an overall winner.
“This is to get us competing on every snap, because that’s what a game comes down to,” said Carroll, who’s coined the phrase “always compete.”
“There’s winning or losing on every play. Everything counts — you’re either competing or you’re not.”
Now how exactly does this work? One-on-one battles are self-explanatory, but in larger-scale drills like 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 work, Carroll’s time-tested scoring system takes center stage. In 11-on-11 drills, the offense garners a win on a four-plus -yard rush or a pass completion of any length, while the defense is victorious if it holds the run to less than four yards or forces an incompletion. Each win and loss is added up throughout a period to produce a running score and an overall winner, designed to create a heated conclusion to every drill as players battle for the victory.
Meanwhile, 7-on-7 work is scored differently, though the result is aimed to be the same. The offense gains a point for a completion while the defense gets two points for every incompletion (the scoring disparity accounts for the lack of pass rush). Three points are awarded for an offensive touchdown or a defensive interception.
“You’ll be surprised at how close it is at the end of every period,” Carroll said.
There is a quiet method to Carroll’s madness. The head coach compares the practice scoring set-up to giving a few kids a basketball and a court, telling them to shoot some hoops. Eventually they’ll get bored and the excitement will pitter out. But if you add in the element of competition and tell the kids to play a pickup game, the energy soars, the players work harder and everyone gets better.
It’s the same mindset Carroll has for injecting some good old-fashioned competition into a traditionally humdrum April minicamp.
“All this leads us to wanting to be the best practicing team in the NFL,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks open a veteran voluntary minicamp on Tuesday at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center — and it’ll be infused with a high-energy competitive element brought in by new head coach Pete Carroll.