| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Lions hire Dan Campbell: Will series of firsts work this time?
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez break down the Detroit Lions hiring Dan Campbell as their new head coach on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
Darrell Bevell will not be back with the Detroit Lions in 2021, and the team’s interim head coach for the final five games of this season is on the verge of landing a plum job elsewhere in the NFL.
Bevell spent two days interviewing with the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this week and is expected to be named the team’s offensive coordinator, an NFL source told the Free Press.
In Jacksonville, Bevell, who went 1-4 as interim coach after Matt Patricia was fired in November, likely will have the chance to work with presumptive No. 1 pick, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Lawrence is considered a generational quarterback prospect, and Bevell has had success working with quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre over the years.
Stafford had a strong start to the 2019 season, Bevell’s first as offensive coordinator. He threw for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in eight games before missing the rest of the season with a back injury.
Stafford struggled with turnovers out of the gate this season, but saw a significant uptick in his play after Bevell took over as interim coach. He completed 66.9% of his passes and averaged 297.8 yards per game (not including the one series he played against Tampa) with a 106.2 passer rating in the final five games of the season, after completing 63.2% of his passes for 261.5 yards per game with a 92.7 passer rating to start the year.
As interim coach, Bevell also earned praise from Lions president Rod Wood for navigating a tricky final month with a depleted defense and COVID-19 situation that forced the Lions to play one game without Bevell and four of his assistants.
Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer took the Jaguars head coaching job earlier this month.
Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp declined to explain why the organization forced Calvin Johnson to return $1.6 million of his signing bonus when he retired after the 2015 season, or say whether the team would return all or part of that money to repair the rift with its former receiver.
“I’m not going to go into the money issue, but I hope we can repair things with Calvin Johnson,” Hamp said during Dan Campbell’s introductory news conference Thursday. “He was obviously an amazing player for us. We’re going to continue to reach out to him and hope that we can repair things because I think it’s important that he comes back into the Lions family. We’d love if he could, if he will.”
Johnson is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, whose class of 2021 was voted on earlier this week.
This year’s Hall of Fame class will be announced the day before Super Bowl 55.
“We are 100% behind him for his Hall of Fame ballot and hope he gets it this time,” Hamp said. “He was a great, great player and a terrific person and we’d love to have him back with us and working with us and helping us with everything.”
Lions’ Dan Campbell: When you knock us down, we’ll ‘bite a kneecap off’
Coach Dan Campbell used colorful language to describe what the Detroit Lions’ identity will be, saying we’ll ”bite a kneecap off,” Jan. 21, 2021.