Did Seahawks Super Bowl ending ruin Darrell Bevell?


Two years ago, the Seattle Seahawks Darrell Bevell was a hot head coaching candidate, held back only by team’s reluctance to hire a guy who wouldn’t  be available to start until February.

Now, the team’s offensive coordinator is a punching bag. Public Enemy #1, bearing the lion’s share of the blame for the Hawks offensive slide this year.

I’ve been on both sides of this issue. For the most part I’ve defended him. In fact the last two years I sat right next to a guy at CenturyLink who I affectionately referred to as “Eyeore” from the Winnie The Pooh books, because the sky was always falling. Nothing Bevell did was right, even when it was. I literally had to remind him that we won a Super Bowl with Bevell calling plays.

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But through 8 games this season the results are hard to argue with. Bevell’s play-calling has been curious at best. He seems unwilling, or incapable, of game-planning to help out the weak offensive line. There’s been no consistency on offense, no rhythm, and he hasn’t found a way to use all the intriguing weapons he has at his disposal. The statistics support the eyes; the Seahawks were top 10 in points scored from 2012-2014, yet have fallen to 25th this year despite sitting 12th in yards. In 2012 and ’13 they were 17th in yards yet still finished 9th and 8th in points scored.

Which would seem to point directly to red zone success, right? Let’s take a look at those numbers:

  • 2012: 16th in the NFL, 53.85% success rate scoring TD’s inside 20.
  • 2013: 14th, 53.23%
  • 2014: 20th, 51.52%

This year they’re dead last; 32nd out of 32 teams, scoring TD’s only 29.41% of the time they see the red zone.

Why the change? Can it be attributed solely to poor offensive line play, Lynch’s two games missed with injury, or some sort of regression from Russell Wilson?

Nope, it’s Bevell’s fault.

More specifically, I wonder if the Super Bowl ending ruined him.

The last thing any play caller can consider when making a call is “I wonder what the fans and media will think of the choice I’m about to make.” It’s sound ridiculous, but is it really? Bevell took so much heat for the pass play call that ended Super Bowl XLIX, and despite a slew of respected coaches, ex-players and analysts coming to his defense the public perception of Bevell As Villiage Idiot became the dominant narrative. But there may be reason to believe that it’s all had an effect on his decision-making process. In the opening drive against San Francisco two weeks ago the Seahawks opened with a strong drive to get inside the 49ers 12 yard line. Ultimately, Marshawn Lynch scored from a yard out, but not before five rushing tries in six plays. Some might say that was the Seahawks trying to “establish the run,” and Pete Carroll said as much after the game. I submit that it still may have been Bevell suffering from PTSBS (Post Traumatic Super Bowl Syndrome.) “I can’t call a pass play here. Not inside the five. Not on national TV. I’ll get skewered if it doesn’t work.”

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Fast forward to the Dallas game Sunday, when the Hawks again were miserable in the red zone (their one TD came on a Luke Willson TD reception from outside the 20.) On their first drive the Hawks were facing 2nd and goal from the Dallas 9 yard line. The Hawks were in shotgun with two backs. Jimmy Graham was lined up wide to the right, and had single coverage from a CB with absolutely no safety help. If it’s me (or about 25ish other coordinators in the league) I’m checking this to a throw to Graham 100 times out of 100. A sluggo, a fade, a simple slant, take your pick. The 6’7″ Graham on a 5’11” CB? It’s a mismatch, never mind that this is why you traded a first round pick and Pro Bowl center to get him! Still, the Hawks handed it to Lynch, despite eight Cowboy defenders in the box. Lynch gained 1 yard. Seattle settled for a field goal.

Sometimes the simple solution is the best one, but time and again Bevell seems to be over-thinking things this year, particularly in the red zone.

A good play caller has to be extremely confident, almost cocky. You have to have an arrogance that what you’ve devised, what you’re calling, is going to work. If the Seahawks are to go on the type of second half run they need to return to the playoffs Bevell is going to have to get over his lack of confidence. Or the Seahawks are going to be left out of the fun come January, and possibly looking for a new play-caller.