Detroit Lions newly appointed offensive-coordinator Darrell Bevell shouldn’t be defined by one terrible play-call although it cost his team a Super Bowl.
That is a bold statement, but it’s the truth; when the Seattle Seahawks were about to score what would likely be a Super Bowl clinching touchdown against the Patriots in SB XLIX, Hawks OC Bevell called a pass play from the 1-yard line rather than electing to hand the ball off to the powerful Marshawn Lynch. It would be a call that not only would shock the world of NFL fans, but it would also leave Hawks head coach Pete Carroll many restless nights after the result. Hopefully, for the Detroit Lions sake, he’s learned a valuable lesson.
Malcolm Butler was able to recognize and jump the slant route picking off Russell Wilson sealing the Patriots first Super-Bowl victory in ten years. We all know what they’ve accomplished since, I’m not going there because quite frankly everyone should be sick of their dominance.
The decision by Bevell left everyone to scratch their heads, rightfully so second-guessing the play call. That is something he will live with for the rest of his life, but the call shouldn’t totally define him. When the Detroit Lions appointed him as the teams’ new offensive coordinator, it was an underwhelming hire. It felt as though it was a conservative, safe addition to head coach Matt Patricia’s staff.
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Bevell joins the team after sitting out of football last season hopefully refreshing his playbook with two significant problems to help correct in Detroit. The obvious may not be the most critical task, but he’s here to try and fix a Lions run game that has been invisible for years. Last year as a team the Lions ranked 23rd in the league averaging 103.8 rushing yards per game. If that seems underwhelming, two years ago the team ranked dead last averaging merely 76.3 rushing yards per game.
Bevell is expected to dial up some of those power-run plays that worked so well for him in Seattle. This has to be a huge deciding factor to why the team decided to draft T.J Hockenson eighth overall rather than a couple of impactful defensive players. This bodes well for Kerryon Johnson but knowing Bevell’s play calling style why didn’t the Lions bring Mark Ingram to Detroit creating a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield?
Ingram signed a very team friendly deal with the Baltimore Ravens averaging 5-million a year with a three-year commitment. The first year is the only year that is guaranteed; if he doesn’t work out, the Ravens can buy-out the remaining two years only costing the team 500k in my book that was a massive offseason miss this organization.
The Detroit Lions did sign C.J Anderson as an insurance policy to Johnson who has been injury prone throughout his football career, leading back to high school. Besides those two backs it becomes very bleak, Theo Riddick who I consider underrated doesn’t seem to get enough opportunities out of the backfield. He is entering the final year of his deal if he doesn’t become expendable before the season starts it’s likely his last season as a member of the Detroit Lions. He’s a well above average pass-catching back that needed to be utilized more in Jim Bob Cooter’s offense.
Anderson is an upgrade to LeGarrette Blount who only seems to excel in a Patriots uniform. C.J galloped for 488 yards including 5 scores with the Rams last year while star back Todd Gurley remained sidelined due to injury. It’s only a one-year deal worth 1.5 million. The team continues to hold onto somewhat of a fan favorite Zach Zenner who is ok, but the team needs players that are better than just “ok” if they want to finally turn the corner. Zenner, in my opinion, would be an average depth back on a bad team; it appears that is precisely what he is in Detroit.
This get’s me to the other part of Bevell’s agenda in Detroit. He needs to find a way to get Matthew Stafford to play a much more consistent style of football. Stafford’s career has been a mixture of injuries early on, playing through pain showing his resilience, flashes of brilliance blended together with stretches of awful decision making.
Having a respectable run game will help Matt tremendously, although games may appear a bit more tedious as they have the potential to lack explosive plays the team expects to chew the clock while controlling the ball. Not being forced to throw the ball over and over and having a balanced attack will absolutely be the key to Stafford along with Bevell’s future success in Detroit.