Darrell Bevell ‘jacked up’ for chance to be Lions head coach

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

This is hardly how he imagined it, taking over midseason, 24 years into his coaching career, holding his first press conference virtually from his dining room table. But none of that was enough to dial back Darrell Bevell’s enthusiasm about his first head coaching opportunity. 

“It’s a little different, but I’m super excited, kind of jacked up for this opportunity,” Bevell said Monday afternoon. 

The Detroit Lions promoted Bevell from offensive coordinator to interim head coach Saturday, firing Matt Patricia after a disastrous 43-game tenure. Because the Lions played on Thanksgiving, Bevell was enjoying some rare in-season family time when he got the call, touring the Henry Ford Museum with his wife, three daughters and two future sons-in-law. 

Darrell Bevell

Now, with five games left in the 2020 season, he’ll get a chance to audition for the job he’s long desired to hold. 

“I told (the team) everybody's watching,” Bevell said. “Everybody's watching them – whether it's our team, whether it's other teams, other organizations, because everyone's in a different situation and the game keeps moving. So we got another opportunity to be at our best, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to be at my best, and I hope what that it is bringing out the best in them – that you will see a difference in them, you'll see a difference in their play, and really hopefully everything. And that will be enough for us.”

When Bevell accepted the role, he was told by team president Rod Wood there’s a chance it could become permanent. What no one said is that’s realistically unlikely, but it doesn’t mean that Bevell won’t have an opportunity to show what he’s all about through the month of December. 

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When commenting on the man he was replacing, Bevell had nothing but kind words, but that’s who Bevell is. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a player or coach who has worked with him that will be a critical of his character. He’s honest and straight forward, two traits everyone can appreciate, and he delivers criticism in a way that builds people up, not tears them down.

Even though that’s not something Bevell would ever say, that’s one way he’ll starkly contrast Patricia. 

As of Monday, due to the NFL’s protocols, Bevell has yet to meet with the team in person since the change. But he’s talked to them twice virtually and his message is clear. 

“I’m super excited to lead them in those five final opportunities, and I expect us to – kind of what I also ended up on today was – I expect them to bring their energy, to bring a new, refreshed attitude when they walk in the building on Wednesday,” Bevell said. “They’re going to get a new perspective – ready to go, kind of with their hair on fire, and take it one game at a time.”

And he wants the players to have fun. 

“I think (the team's attitude has) just been a little inconsistent at times,” Bevell said. “My thing is, I just want them to be able to have a great time. It’s important to know that being able to have a good time and hard work, they don’t have to be individual deals. You can have a great time and work hard. That’s what I told the guys. That’s what I want them to do. It’s never really been about their work. They’ve worked hard. I’m excited to be able to bring that attitude for them.”

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And that’s as close as you’ll get to a criticism from Bevell, because he’s right, the Lions never had problems working hard under Patricia. He pushed them from the day he arrived. But fun? Well, there wasn’t much time for that. You don’t have to look beyond the multitude of former players that rushed to criticize the coach the day he was dismissed by the organization. 

While the Bevell era might not last beyond five games – and there’s plenty of reason for the franchise to start fresh in 2021 – things are going to be different in the locker room the next several weeks. For Bevell’s sake, maybe a change in attitude will also translate to the field.