| Detroit Free Press
What’s next for Detroit Lions after firing Bob Quinn, Matt Patricia
Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez weigh in Nov. 28, 2020, after the Detroit Lions fired Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn.
Darrell Bevell was at Henry Ford Museum with is wife, three daughters and two future sons-in-law when he got an urgent text Saturday afternoon from Matt Patricia’s chief of staff, Kevin Anderson, telling him to call Detroit Lions president Rod Wood right away.
Bevell and his family had just finished a glassblowing exhibit at the museum and stepped inside the gift shop to purchase an ornament when the Lions new interim head coach excused himself to find out he was being named just that.
“It’s never good when you get a call-the-president-ASAP (text), so I called them and Rod patched (owner) Sheila (Ford Hamp) in and we had just a brief conversation at that moment, what they had done with Coach and Bob,” Bevell said. “That’s when they extended the opportunity to be the interim head coach and I told them I was honored for it, I was excited to be able to do that and excited for these next five weeks.”
Bevell will make his head coaching debut Sunday when the Lions (4-6) visit the Chicago Bears (5-6). For a career assistant who spent 18 years with the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks before taking over as Lions offensive coordinator last January, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I hate the circumstances with which it happened, but it’s an opportunity,” he said. “And you got to take full advantage of the opportunities that you’re given, however they come your way. So like I told the players, I’m jacked. I mean, I’m excited. I get a five-game audition to show what I’m capable of.”
Bevell was the logical choice to replace Patricia when the team decided to move on from him and general manager Bob Quinn over the weekend.
The 50-year-old was the Lions’ most senior coordinator and someone who was a head coaching candidate an NFL lifetime ago. Ironically, in 2013, he interviewed with the Bears to replace Lovie Smith.
Well-liked in the locker room and respected across the league, Bevell is also a complete 180 from Patricia in terms of personality.
While Patricia’s gruff demeanor and prickly approach alienated large portions of the Lions’ locker room in his first two seasons in Detroit, Bevell is known for his inclusivity in game-planning and calming presence on the field.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said he and others were genuinely excited for Bevell to get the job.
“From day one when I first met him, he’s always been the same guy,” Stafford said. “He’s been positive, upbeat, he loves coming to work, he loves the game of football. He’s lucky that early in his career he got to spend a lot of time around Brett Favre, and it’s a similar kind of feel, where they just love the game for the game. And it’s something that’s pretty cool to see, and I know that Bev has a great appreciation for Brett and I think it probably rubbed off on him a little bit, just how much fun a grown man can have playing a kid’s game.”
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Bevell tried to impart that message on players in a pair of Zoom meetings he held with the team the last three days.
On Saturday, Lions players were summoned through their Teamworks app to a 3:30 p.m. Zoom, where Hamp and Wood announced the firings of Patricia and Quinn and introduced Bevell as interim head coach.
“I just talked to them about we’re all going through all these changes,” Bevell said. “It’s obviously been a difficult year, whether you’re talking about the COVID pandemic that we’re going through, with all the other stuff that’s happening around the world, social injustice, those things, meeting on Zoom calls. The way the season’s going. It’s been rough, it’s been challenging, but I told them the game doesn’t care. And it’s for us right now to pick up where we are and we’ve got five opportunities left.”
In a second Zoom on Monday, Bevell said he told players “to bring their energy, to bring a new refreshed attitude when they walk in the building on Wednesday.”
“Just my opinion is I just wanted to be able to have a great time,” Bevell said. “It’s important to know that being able to have a good time and hard work, they don’t have to be individual deals. You can have a great time and work hard, and that’s what I told the guys, that’s what I want them to do. It’s never really been about their work. They work hard, so I’m excited to be able to just bring that attitude for them.”
Asked if players were not having fun under Patricia, Bevell said, “Again, I’m not getting into judging or any of that, that’s just what I told them. I want them to be able to have fun, and just to talk about it, there’s no fun in losing. These guys work hard and it’s not fun when you lose, so part of it is definitely that.”
Bevell will retain play-calling duties over the final five weeks, and he said defensive coordinator Cory Undlin will continue to run the defense.
Offensively, Bevell said he did not feel hamstrung by Patricia’s demands as head coach, but wants more big plays out of the unit overall.
Ex-Detroit Lion Justin Forsett reflects on Darrell Bevell
Former Detroit Lions running back Justin Forsett talks about Darrell Bevell and his ShowerPill business on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, in Atlanta.
Wood told Bevell that he could be considered for the full-time job after the season — the Lions started parallel coach and general manager searches on Saturday — though Bevell said the reality is, that only will happen if the Lions win.
“I get five weeks to audition for it,” Bevell said. “He said yes, that, that would be a possibility. But like I said, the five weeks are going to be telling.”
One more note about the weekend: As happy as Bevell was to be named interim head coach, he wasn’t the only one with good news in the family. Both of Bevell’s future sons-in-law asked Bevell for permission to marry his daughters.
“Kind of a funny story,” Bevell said. “So my middle daughter’s a softball player at BYU and when she came up here, she’s like, ‘I haven’t got enough hitting in, I want to go hit.’ So we went out and hit, and one of them took a softball of the eye, so he asked me while we were in the emergency room getting it stitched up, if you can believe it.”