| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Lions’ coach Darrell Bevell on sitting out vs. Buccaneers
Detroit Lions interim coach Darrell Bevell said Dec. 28, 2020, he felt helpless as he watched his team get throttled by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Only in 2020 can a healthy NFL head coach be forced to watch his team play from home while his family is in the stands cheering on his team.
That’s what happened to interim Detroit Lions head coach Darrell Bevell on Saturday, when he spent the final day of his five-day COVID-19-related quarantine watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dismantle the Lions from his metro Detroit home while his wife and two of his daughters were at Ford Field.
“One of them wanted to stay, my 16-year-old,” Bevell said Monday. “She felt like someone needed to be with Dad, and I really sent the other ones. I told them, ‘Please, go to the game. Be there and support our team.'”
Bevell and four of his assistants — defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and defensive position coaches Bo Davis, Ty McKenzie and Steve Gregory — were forced to support the Lions from afar last week after the team had two COVID positives and they were deemed high-risk close contacts.
NFL rules require all high-risk contacts to spend at least five days in quarantine. For Bevell and most of his assistants, their quarantine ended Sunday.
Bevell, who spent the early part of last week in a hotel, said he returned home Saturday after 11 straight negative COVID tests, including one the morning of the game.
“Very strange experience,” he said. “I would probably use the word helpless as you’re sitting there just watching it on TV. I really felt like I needed to be there. I wanted to be there. Then the situation with no contact, no anything, you just feel helpless. TV copy is obviously different than what we’re doing, so you’re not in on everything. You don’t know quite what’s going on, when the stuff’s going on on the sideline. It was a very helpless feeling.”
Undlin described a similar experience where he “paced around my kitchen island for about three-and-a-half hours” watching the game.
“Disappointed in the fact that I wasn’t there,” he 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.”
Wide receivers coach Robert Prince served as interim head coach in Bevell’s absence, and quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan and defensive analyst Evan Rothstein handled offensive and defensive play calling, respectively.
The Lions did not score a touchdown on offense, while the Bucs scored TDs on six of their first seven possessions en route to an easy 47-7 victory.
Bevell said his team was put in “very difficult situations last week,” but he did not take issue Monday with the NFL’s decision to go ahead with the game.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I mean, there’s not really anything that I can do or say that’s going to change anything. It is what it is, that’s how the league decided to do it. It’s no different than any other team. The Cleveland Browns ended up playing without their wide receiver crew as well. It looks like they’re being consistent in that.”