Detroit Lions: Being completely wrong about Darrell Bevell

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Excitement ensued the second Darrell Bevell had been named the Detroit Lions offensive coordinator before the 2019 NFL season.

Finally, the Detroit Lions would rid themselves of the ever so predictable Jim Bob Cooter.  Cooter was a holdover from Jim Caldwell’s staff per request of Matthew Stafford.  I don’t really blame Stafford for not wanting to learn another offense; the man seems to go through coordinators as we go through underwear.

One of the main issues with Cooter had been his willingness to straight up abandon the run.  Another one of his downfalls was his playcalling, pretty important for a coordinator.  Cooter would often call a play, particularly on third down short of the line to gain.  If Detroit needed to gain seven yards to move the chains, the play would often be a four-yard drag route or something of that nature.  Infuriating.

I was so excited when Lions head coach Matt Patricia cut ties with Cooter and opted to add Darrell Bevell to his coaching staff.  Boy, was I wrong on this one; I thought Bevell would excel with the Detroit Lions, but it’s been the exact opposite.

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Stafford fits Bevell’s quarterback mold perfectly.  Bevell prefers to push the football downfield, unlike Cooter, who lived on the short, quick passing routes.  It is ok to check the football down as a last resort, but under Cooter, that was primarily what the Lions did.  When Detroit tried to push the football downfield in Cooter’s offense, it usually ended up with two receivers being in the same area, which also brings extra defenders to the party.  When a team is taking a shot down the field, the last thing they intend to do is create a traffic jam.

Bevell likes to work the ball downfield off of play-action, and having a strong-armed quarterback under center like Stafford plays to the strength of his system.  Here’s the thing, though, like Cooter, Bevell has become extremely predictable.  The Detroit offensive series’ usually starts with an Adrian Peterson run on first down, followed by another Peterson tote leaving the Lions in a very predictable passing third and medium-to-long.

I find myself screaming at the television on both first and second down, usually crying for D’Andre Swift in the backfield over Peterson followed by-please mix in some play-action on first down, and maybe a straight drop-back pass on second.  All of that is usually followed by, ‘well, here comes the best punter in football, Jack Fox.’

As bad as the Detroit Lions defense has been under Matt Patricia, the offense is expected to be a bright spot.  Last season through the teams’ first eight games, Stafford had been on pace to throw for 5,000 yards and 38 touchdowns.

In 2020 the Detroit Lions added a future Hall Of Fame running back in Peterson, and with it not being his fault, he’s become detrimental to the offense.  Bevell can’t help himself, he loves to call running plays to Peterson, yet Swift remains the more explosive option.  I have no issue with Detroit rostering Peterson as the teams’ short-yardage back, but why does Bevell feel the need to give the corpse of Peterson nearly 12 carries per game?  It’s beyond frustrating when the franchise spent a premium draft pick in 2020 on a running back.

The Detroit offense has seemed to be focusing on getting Swift more involved moving forward, but he should garner 15 touches per week regardless of the game situation.  If the Lions are leading and hoping to manage the clock, hand the ball off to Swift.  If the team is trailing, use Swift primarily as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

I understand the Detroit Lions offense continues to sputter without star receiver Kenny Golladay, but they have plenty of weapons on that side of the ball to get the job done.  With Golladay out, Bevell’s primary focus should be getting tight end T.J. Hockenson the football and putting extra emphasis on targeting Swift.

Next. Something needs to give and it starts at the top. dark

I was big on the Bevell addition, I am not impressed at the moment, but the veteran play-caller still has an opportunity to win me back.