Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll uses an old-school drill to set the tempo at the beginning of every training camp practice.
It’s a drill that is almost as old as the game, and one that many will tell you exceeded its shelf life long ago.
Pete Carroll, however, does not share that opinion.
During every practice this offseason, and carrying over to Bing Training Camp, the air horn sounds early in the session and the Seahawks’ players sprint to their respective fields to run bags. The defense is on the east field, closest to the berm where fans watch practice. The offense is on the west field, closer to Lake Washington.
But the players don’t just high-step through the series of bags like a drudgery drill out of an old Ronald Reagan movie. There are coaches on either side of the bags, as well as either end, exhorting the players.
“Do you call that running through the bags drill anything special?” Carroll was asked.
“Yeah, bags,” the Seahawks’ first-year coach deadpanned.
But no one – no one – is allowed to bag it when it comes to the bags drill.
When Carroll didn’t like the intensity of fans watching the drill at a recent practice, he turned to them, waved his arms and challenged them to pump up the volume.
“They cranked it up pretty good,” Carroll said. “That was maybe the most well-applauded bag drill of all time.”
Until the next one. That Carroll, always striving for competition – even from the fans who attend practice.
Asked when he had last run bags, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck offered, “For the Norfolk Medfield Mills Pop Warner Vikings (it took three towns to make one team).”
Veteran safety Lawyer Milloy has done it more recently – for Carroll, when both were with the New England Patriots.
“What it does, there’s no way that you can’t get yourself going,” Milloy said. “If you come out with a bad attitude, or come out a little lazy, or whatever, when you go through the bags you’ll get run over with that attitude.
“So it’s just a reminder that, ‘Hey, things are about to really kick in. So let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.’ ”
That’s why Carroll still uses the drill. It sets an early tempo in practice and also plays into his “Always Compete” theme. It’s offense vs. defense, even when they’re on opposite fields.
“The defense is over there doing the bag drill right by the fans, the offense is over here by the water,” Hasselbeck said. “And I’m sure we’re going to watch film of the bag drill and see who had more intensity.
“It’s a competitive thing. That’s just an example of situations he’s trying to put us in.”
Milloy just smiled when told of Hasselbeck’s comment.
“As a player, do I like it totally? No,” he said. “But after I go through them, I am like, ‘OK, let’s go. Time to rock ’n roll.’ ”
Carroll isn’t the only NFL coach Milloy has run bags for.
“I’ve done it with three coaches – Pete, (Bill) Parcells and (Bill) Belichick,” Milloy said of a trio that has won five Super Bowls and two NCAA national championships. “All those guys have been pretty successful. So who are we to question it?”