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Darrell Bevell explains ‘agonizing’ decision to fire Brayden Coombs

Bevell went into significant detail on why the decision was made to move on from Coombs.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Detroit Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell chatted with the local media on Monday morning in his typical press conference, but it wasn’t exactly a typical press conference. Bevell was only asked questions about the team’s sudden decision to fire special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs.

The decision on Monday morning came as a shock to most, but once details emerged that Coombs reportedly called his own fake punt against orders in the fourth quarter, the picture became a little clearer.

Bevell gave a lot more context to his decision, including confirming that Coombs had indeed called the fake punt against the will of the head coach.

Here are the main points Bevell made to clear up any confusion about how and why the decision was made.

Who made the decision to fire Coombs?

Bevell made it very clear that after a night of considering it, he took his suggestion to team president Rod Wood and waited for authorization from management.

“I thought long and hard about it last night, and I ended up talk to Rod (Wood) and told Rod what my thoughts were,” Bevell said. “And then Rod and the rest of the leadership group made a decision and helped me in that decision.”


“It was my decision to start, but, obviously, it’s one that I cannot make by myself.”

Was there any chance there was a miscommunication on the play?

While Bevell did admit that scenarios like going for it on fourth down are always fluid during the game and can change even though there are regular parameters, he did seem to suggest that there was no breakdown in communication here.

“The communication has to be clear as well, so there’s not—on the headphones when things are getting chaotic in those moments—that there can be a miscommunication. So there’s clear protocols, there’s clear communication and words to make sure that that (doesn’t) happens.”

Did you consider a lesser punishment?

Bevell didn’t answer this directly, but made sure to convey that this wasn’t an emotional response without serious contemplation.

“It was an agonizing decision,” Bevell said. “It’s something that was really hard for me. I thought it would be really important for me to think on it a lot. I really thought about it basically all night long.”

But in the end, it appears he believed the infraction from Coombs was too serious for any lesser punishment.

“There are some things that you can do, and I think you can come back from. And then I think there are some decisions that—you don’t make those decisions, and there’s got to be repercussions.”

What was Coombs’ defense?

Bevell refused to answer that question.

“I’d like to keep the communication we had private.”

Was there anything else that led to Coombs’ firing?

Again, Bevell refused to comment on the situation. Instead, he focused on the break in rank.

“I’m just going to leave it at that moment and not really get into all the behind-the-scenes stuff. I don’t want it to turn into this big thing. It was just a decision I thought was best for the team.”

Why punt?

Bevell said that while he likes to be aggressive in that situation, a lot of things played into wanting to punt the ball there, including the status of Matthew Stafford, who had just taken two shots on second and third down.

“As we’re going through a drive—as we were in that drive there in the fourth quarter, there’s 12:34 seconds to go in the game. We’re down two scores. Matthew had just been hit on second down on the little fumbled snap. He’d just been hit on third down on the next play. So just assessing the whole situation, the communication that we had, it can change each and every drive.”

Continuing later:

“I’m assessing that the quarterback is not in a good way, and, also, with the score and where we were—we had three timeouts left, plus the two-minute warning—and Jack (Fox) is punting really well, I thought it’d be best to flip the field.”

Why do it now instead of just riding it out for the rest of the season?

With only two weeks remaining in the season, the Lions could have very well just ridden this out and made a decision on Coombs’ future with the new general manager and head coach. However, Bevell believed it was important to set a standard right now, so that his message and his vision will not be compromised or lose credibility.

“I do think it’s important as a leaders, as hard as the decisions can be, I think it’s important that I have a philosophy and I have a belief and things that I’m trying to instill in the team, instill in the coaching staff, instill in the program. When things happen that are outside of it, then there needs to be something that happens. If something doesn’t happen, then really you lose some credibility.

“I always feel it’s important—I tell our coaches all the time—we need to do what we say we’re going to do. Because if we tell these guys something, we need to be able to come through.”

How have the players reacted?

Several Lions players went to Twitter to express either their shock of the firing or appreciation for what Coombs did for them. But because of the shortened week due to an upcoming Saturday game, Bevell said he was not able to communicate with the entire team about the firing, because Monday was the players’ day off.

That said, he did reach out to a few individuals impacted by the firing. He decided to keep those conversations private.

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