| Detroit Free Press
Even in a win, Detroit Lions’ flaws are apparent. Can they fix them?
Dave Birkett, Carlos Monarrez and Shawn Windsor break down the Detroit Lions after their 30-27 win over Washington on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020.
The election is far from over. In fact, it’s just begun.
Of course, we’re talking about voting for the NFL’s Pro Bowl.
On the day the NFL launched its fan voting for the game’s annual selection of all-stars, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell gave a little stump speech for two candidates he thinks are worthy of election.
That would be left tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow. Pro Bowlers are selected via votes weighted equally among fans, coaches and players.
“They should be (in that conversation),” Bevell said Tuesday. “I think they’re playing at a really high level. Hopefully the people around them see it. I think their peers see it, the guys that they have to go up against every week.
“We’ve faced some good fronts, and there’s some good fronts in our division. But again, that (Washington front) is probably as good as it can get. To hold the quarterback fairly clean throughout the game, again, speaks well for those guys.”
Decker and Ragnow have been the standouts on an offensive line that has played well this season. In Sunday’s 30-27 win over Washington, the offensive line allowed only one sack and has allowed more than two sacks just once in the past five games.
“We really need to give these guys props,” Bevell said. “I came in here last week — I mean, the big concern was (Washington’s) front four, actually their front five, I think they said. They go five deep with first-rounders, former first-round draft picks. (Our offensive linemen) just did a great job.”
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Bevell also pointed to the unintentional benefit of the offensive linemen becoming more familiar with one another after injuries led to personnel shuffling.
“I think some of the things that they’re doing in practice,” he said, “some of the time that they get to spend with one another, playing next to each other — like you said, it’s been a mix. We’ve had to move guys around a lot, but with that, I think it made each and every guy more comfortable with the guy that plays next to them.
We’re moving it around in practice all the time, trying to keep the guys — one, trying to keep them healthy, and two, trying to give them some good looks with guys next to them. I think they’ve really done a good job of gelling as a group, whether it’s the five, the sixth, the seventh, the eighth and ninth lineman.”
Detroit Lions OC Darrell Bevell on offensive line’s strong play
Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell tries to explain Nov. 17, 2020, why the team’s offensive line was so effective against Washington.
The Lions haven’t been bad on kickoff returns. But it’s an area that has lagged during an otherwise strong year for special teams.
Detroit has 318 kickoff return yards, eighth-fewest in the NFL. Jamal Agnew’s season-long 35-yard kickoff return is tied for 10th-shortest for a team this season. But the Lions’ 22.7-yard return average is in the middle of the pack and they have yet to fumble.
“I think, to be perfectly honest, it’s just opportunity,” Lions special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs said. “If you look at the last two, three, maybe more than that — couple of games — we haven’t really had many kickoffs. It’s either been touchbacks, or the Minnesota game was squib and pooch kicks, whatever it is. I think, honestly, that’s the biggest part of it, is just opportunity.”
Coombs said he trusts his kick-return unit and emphasizes to players that he wants them to stick with the game plan.
“But the biggest thing is just being patient,” he said. “The last thing you ever want to do in any sport is press because that’s usually when you open yourselves up to vulnerability. We’ve just got to keep being patient, letting the game come to us.
“I certainly don’t have any less confidence in our return game than I did earlier in the year. I think at one point we were No. 1 or 2 in both phases, and that was just based on two or three returns. Obviously, when your numbers are lower, the averages are going to jump around. Hopefully that will come. A lot of times when they come, they come in bunches. We’ve just got to stay ready, keep preparing the way that we have been.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.