Indianapolis — Answering a question about his new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell at the season ticket holder summit a few weeks back, Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia casually noted Bevell was probably a play away from being a back-to-back Super Bowl champion.
That play, arguably the most famous in Super Bowl history, saw New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler jump a pass into the end zone, intercepting Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to seal the Patriots' 28-24 victory in Super Bowl XLIX.
Bevell was the offensive coordinator in Seattle, Patricia the defensive coordinator in New England. Now they'll work together in Detroit after Patricia tabbed Bevell to replace Jim Bob Cooter.
On Wednesday, at the NFL scouting combine, Patricia was asked if that Super Bowl moment came up during Bevell's interview.
"Totally was not part of the conversation at all," Patricia said with a smile. "I think there was kind of a mutual eye connection that said we’re not going to talk about that and we’ll just move on to now."
Patricia hired Bevell, a year removed from his firing in Seattle, to help fix an offense that finished 24th in yardage and 25th in scoring in 2018. Patricia explained what sold him on his new coordinator.
"He’s obviously somebody I have a great deal of respect for, playing against him in some of the bigger stages of our game," Patricia said. "One of the things that’s great about him is just his experience through the different systems he’s been in and he’s been able to evolve and adapt many different offenses to fit the quarterbacks that he’s been around. Obviously, coming up through Green Bay (and) Minnesota with the quarterbacks that he’s had through those years there, and then obviously on to Seattle with Russell Wilson, just really thought from a personality standpoint, philosophy standpoint, very similar to what we’re trying to get done in Detroit. It was a really good conversation. Didn’t really know him until I spent a couple of days with him and everything kind of clicked from that standpoint, so it was great.
Bevell notably worked with Brett Favre in Green Bay and Minnesota, a player Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been compared to in the past due to both having strong arms, creative deliveries and a willingness to make aggressive throws.
More recently, Bevell worked with Wilson, while new quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan is coming off a stint working with Deshaun Watson in Houston. Given that experience with mobile passers, could the Lions be looking for a little more of that from Stafford going forward? After all, he's just a couple years removed from surprising observers with a career-high 206 rushing yards on 37 runs in 2016.
Patricia didn't want to go that far, but also didn't dismiss the idea.
"He has athletic ability," Patricia said. "We’ll see how that goes as far as what it fits and we’ll try to do everything we can – the great part about this, and the great thing about Bevell, he’s so adaptive to what it best for the players that we have and the quarterback position being obviously the most critical. We’ll start there and we’ll build and we’ll go from there. It’s not a situation where I’ll say it’s hard to find this is exactly what it is because we want to grow it as the Lions’ offense and I think that’s what’s important.”