Quarantined during game leaves Lions coaches with helpless feeling

Detroit News

Justin Rogers
| The Detroit News

By the time Saturday rolled around, Detroit Lions coach Darrell Bevell was done being holed up in a hotel room, so he headed home to watch the game he wasn’t allowed to coach. 

“I just decided to go back to the house,” Bevell said. “I’ve had 11 negative (COVID) tests in a row, including that morning of the game, so I was done.”

His wife and two of his daughters actually went to the game, part of a Ford Field crowd of 250 friends and family members. Bevell, meanwhile, in his final day of quarantine, sat at home with his third daughter and watched the Lions get slaughtered by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 47-7. 

For Bevell, he was overwhelmed by the feeling of helplessness. 

“There was just so much going on in the game, and there’s absolutely nothing that I could do,” he said. “So there was all kind of emotions that were going on – clapping, screaming, hands on the head, all kinds of things that were going on.”

Defensive coordinator Cory Undlin was in the same boat, at home for the same reason, dealing with the same emotions as Tom Brady picked apart Detroit’s secondary. 

“Paced around my kitchen island for about three and a half hours, yeah,” Undlin said. “It’s not good, but yeah, but it is what it was.”

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Undlin, in his first, and likely only season as the team’s defensive coordinator, explained how he had been so careful this season, going from home to work back to home since training camp, where he’s lived alone. 

But another, still unidentified member of his staff ended up testing positive for COVID-19, unintentionally exposing four other coaches, including Undlin and Bevell at the team’s facility last Monday. 

Undlin said the normal thoughts went through his head, hoping he didn’t contract the virus. But after two days of negative tests, he began to feel like he was probably in the clear. 

Undlin’s absence forced Detroit’s biggest adjustment against Tampa Bay. With position coaches Bo Davis, Ty McKenzie and Steve Gregory also quarantined, the team handed defensive play-calling responsibilities to Evan Rothstein, a coaching assistant who focuses on research and analysis, prepping players each week with data and tendencies of the upcoming opponent. 

“Yeah, disappointed in the fact that I wasn’t there,” Undlin said. “Obviously, the outcome of the game was not good, didn’t execute. Proud of the players and the coaches that had to step up and deal with it, but not what we were looking for. I’ve never been in that situation. I don’t know if any club in the history of the league has ever been in that situation. I don’t think it has. But to sit in your kitchen and watch it, have zero impact and not be able to do anything, it’s not a good situation to be in. I hope I’m never in it again.”

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