Well there it is, Lions fans. The Lions finally answered the question you’ve all been asking since the team parted ways with Jim Bob Cooter back in early January. Per the Detroit Lions, the team has hired former Vikings and Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to run the team’s offense.
The initial thoughts on Lions twitter were pretty underwhelming, although that was to be expected. All of the hot names that fans wanted were already gone. Even if the Lions would have waited, there wasn’t much in the way of proven success waiting to be hired out there. On the other hand, those who really didn’t want George Godsey to get this job have to be pumped, right?
As for me, my first impressions are that this is a guy that’s proven to have success in the run game. As for the pass game, I have a lot of questions. Both of his stints in Minnesota and Seattle came with either quarterback troubles or lack of receiving weapons. It should be a nice change of pace for him to work with Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay.
I also like that Bevell has worked with Brett Favre in the past when he was the Packers quarterback coach. Matthew Stafford and Favre have often been compared to each other when it comes to their gunslinger type of play, even if Stafford really isn’t that type of quarterback anymore.
So with my thoughts out of the way, I found myself with a lot of questions. I know Lions fans have them too. So I figured the best thing to do was transport myself to Seattle via the space needle and ask my pal Alistair Corp from Field Gulls what he thinks about Darrell Bevell. Here’s what he had to say.
POD: What are your thoughts on Bevell’s time in Seattle?
FG: “Bevell’s time in Seattle is tainted by a couple of things. The first, and most obvious, is the interception that ended Super Bowl XLIX. While Pete Carroll has taken the blame both inside and outside the building for calling a pass, the play call itself is on Bevell. The second is simply the amount of time he was in Seattle. Seven years is a long time for a coordinator to be in the same job. The Bevell fatigue kind of coincided with the offense bottoming out in 2017, and so he was remembered as a failure.
Really, he wasn’t. My thoughts are that he was largely successful. During the Seahawks’ peak from 2012-2015, the lowest they finished in offensive DVOA was 7th. Russell Wilson’s arm talent and determination would’ve probably made him succeed no matter the situation, but Pete Carroll (after Wilson was drafted) called him “Bevell’s project.” And so he deserves credit for that “project” becoming one of the steadiest quarterbacks in the NFL. My biggest gripe with him was that he seemed to completely fail at grasping the modern NFL. In 2017, the offense featured Jimmy Graham and J.D. McKissic; two really interesting chess pieces that you could use in creative ways. Bevell never schemed to get favorable matchups and the offense suffered as a result.“
POD: Can Bevell work with Stafford in the pass game? Or is he more of a run first guy?
FG: “He can definitely work with Stafford in the passing game. Again, it’s not completely clear how much credit he should get for the player Wilson has become, but it would be wrong to discredit him completely. Granted, a lot of talk from Carroll and people around the team after Brian Schottenheimer was hired as Bevell’s replacement was, “He’s really going to challenge Russell.” Not that they would ever say it directly, but the subtext of that is “Unlike Bevell.” And that’s the sense I got as an outsider; he wasn’t really challenging Wilson to improve as a pocket passer. But for all his shortcomings, he has had success with Brett Favre and Wilson, and even coaxed semi-decent play out of Tarvaris Jackson at different points. That should give fans some confidence in his ability to work with Stafford.”
POD: Talk Lions fans off the ledge. What’s good about this hire?
FG: “If you do have confidence in Matt Patricia and the identity he’s trying to build, you have a reason to be happy with the hire. He wants to be a run first team and he brought in the coordinator who called plays for the best rushing team of the decade; the team with the blueprint for playing football of a bygone era in modern times. Kerryon Johnson is a stud and should thrive under Bevell. Though the passing game won’t be complex or earth-shattering, Bevell’s offenses are usually pretty consistent with hitting on explosive plays. He may not maximize Marvin Jones or Babytron, but Jones’ ability as a vertical threat and Babytron’s explosiveness will lend itself to that part of Bevell’s offense.”
POD: Talk them back on to the ledge. Was this a mistake?
FG: “If you don’t have confidence in Patricia, it’s pretty easy to see why Bevell was the choice for OC. He won’t challenge the philosophy, and he has seven years of coordinator experience in pretty much the same role. He won’t have Stafford pushing 4500-5000 yards in a season like earlier in his career, and he likely won’t oversee Golladay’s ascension to legitimate number-one wide receiver status.”
So there you have it. What we learned here is that with Bevell at the helm, the Lions have possible chance to become one of the best rushing teams in the league, if not the best. If you’re worried about the pass game, the good thing is that Stafford benefits from that. The run sets up the pass and keeps defenses honest. As I mentioned earlier, Stafford has what Russell Wilson hasn’t: receiving weapons.
What gives me pause is Matt Patricia’s desire to move the game backwards into a style of play that would have fit more 10 years ago as opposed to today. But one thing is for certain: Teams that can run the ball well and have a good quarterback tend to win a lot. Can Bevell make the Lions that next team?