Lights. Camera. Action.
This is Detroit Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell’s big chance, and I'm predicting he'll win at least three games.
This is some 24 coaching years in the making from Westmar University in Le Mars, Iowa, to Detroit, Mich., and these opportunities do not come around every day -- as he knows all too well.
After years of hearing his name mentioned in connection to different openings, as he coached the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre in Green Bay and Russell Wilson in Seattle, he never got the call ... until now.
The proverbial bridesmaid has caught the bouquet. It is Bevell’s job, and it's go time.
When I wrote an advance scouting report on the entire Detroit roster heading into Week 11 last season, I felt a strong and aggressive synergy between Bevell and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Stafford was firing passes at the intermediate and deep levels like darts. The Lions’ offense was ranked No. 6 in the league, and then Stafford got hurt in Week 9 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Then, COVID-19 happened.
The 2020 campaign kicked off, and nothing felt the same.
The aggression on offense was dialed way down, and suddenly, the synergy between Bevell and Stafford sounded more like static.
However, now, right out of the gates of Bevell being handed the interim tag, I am hearing something very different.
I am hearing things like, “More up-tempo offense,” “ratcheted up the excitement” and there is a “buzz” now surrounding this team.
It sounds like we are going back to what we saw prior to Stafford’s injury last season.
I think we will see a much more wide-open and aggressive downfield attack, with the receivers and Hockenson and an increase of screen passes to the running backs to get them out in space more often.
Bevell will also lean hard on Adrian Peterson, his old workhorse from his days in Minnesota.
The thing that sealed my prediction for me is when I saw that Bevell told the Detroit Free Press, “Let’s try to get a wild card spot.”
As the leader goes, so goes the team. Aggression and belief wins.
That is the Bevell formula.
And the word on the street is that Bevell is well liked by the players. Truth be told, it's not only Bevell's future that is on the line, but also many of the players that make up Detroit's roster.
If a new regime comes in, it will do the usual NFL two-step, and bring in “its guys."
And who knows where the dust will settle. I am betting the players will play for Bevell.
I have always said it is hard to beat someone who has nothing to lose, and Bevell’s only chance to get the job permanently is to win out.
That means no more three-yard passes on third-and-15 plays.
That means let it all hang out, waive the punter off the field and take every chance in the book.
Now is not the time to play the field position game, and now is not the time to “play not to lose.”
In the team's first go-around with the Bears, the Lions were literally a catch away from winning.
Then, it’s off to Green Bay. And yes, they are tough, but Bevell knows Rodgers and the game will be in Detroit.
After the Packers, it's the Titans -- no doubt a stiff challenge. But, anything is possible.
The Lions could also be catching the Buccaneers at the right time, and I have zero faith in Kirk Cousins and the Vikings down the stretch.
And oh yeah, once upon a time, Bevell led the University of Wisconsin to its first ever Rose Bowl victory, as the team’s QB. It came in 1993, during a 10-1-1 campaign.
All in all, it’s definitely in Bevell to win three out of five games.
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