| The Detroit News
Change can be sad, but it also can be exciting.
After a couple virtual meetings with the players in recent days, interim head coach Darrell Bevell finally got a chance to be face-to-face with the roster and deliver a message about focusing on the future and seizing opportunity.
“The mood of the room, I thought there was a buzz in it because there was some difference in the room,” Bevell said. “The room was set up a little bit different, then how I started the meeting was a little bit different. I don’t want to get into everything because I do feel like there’s some sanctity of just some of those team meetings, but the message was our perspective. I wanted their perspective to change. I wanted them to understand what my perspective was and what our perspective would be going forward.
“So that was the main word of the day. I was quick. I think it was about eight minutes, that I went in there. I enjoyed it. I think they did as well.”
Cornerback Justin Coleman felt it.
“I mean I could sense the energy in these guys,” Coleman said. “I guess it’s just the will to continue to compete. These guys are just looking forward to another game, another opportunity just to play with each other. “
When Bevell talked about perspective, he wants the team to focus on what’s in front of them and not what’s in the rear-view mirror. With five games remaining, Bevell knows he and the players don’t have the time to waste thinking about how they got here, only how they can do their best to dig out of the hole.
And even though the Lions are 4-7, with seemingly little hope of reaching the postseason given the remaining schedule, the locker room isn’t about to quit on the possibility.
“He pretty much (said) I want everybody to come in here refreshed and of the mindset that we still have something to play for,” offensive tackle Taylor Decker said. “We’re only two games out to try to be able to get a wild card spot and there’s still a lot to play for. If you can’t get excited to go out there and try to win then, I mean, do you have a pulse? I don’t know.”
Obviously, there’s only so much Bevell will be able to change about the team — schematically or from an operational standpoint — taking over at this time of year. But there were a number of small alterations being implemented this week, many coming from feedback with the players.
For example, offensive linemen will no long need to wear knee braces on days with non-padded practices. It sounds inconsequential, but came as a relief to Decker. And during practice, the first-team offense and defense spent a lot more time working against each other than they did under Patricia.
“We had a long individual period to start to work on our fundamentals, and then once we got going, we were going,” Decker said. “And at the same time, we sprinkled in there that we were going to compete. There were plenty of reps of one-on-ones. There were plenty of reps of that. So, now I’m expecting to every day see Everson Griffen or Romeo Okwara. So, that’s a big thing.”
But the change most likely to garner some attention was on the offensive side of the ball, where Bevell might finally be free of some of the anchors Patricia’s conservative nature added to the equation. According to Decker, there was an emphasis on pace during the team’s first practice under their new coach.
“One thing Bev has always preached to the offense, and now as our head coach, is pace in and out of the huddle,” Decker said. “Run plays fast. Get to the line of scrimmage, line up, run the play, because pace as an offense is a weapon, and as a defense, if you can match the pace, then they can’t use that against you as a weapon.”
It will be interesting to see just how much faster the Lions can play.
Heading into Sunday’s game against Chicago, Detroit was taking just 26.07 seconds between snaps, according to Football Outsiders. That was good for seventh in the league.
Of course, some of that is situational, forced tempo while trying to rally late in games. In neutral situations, the Lions ranked 13th.