The fact that there's a group of people who still believe that Darrell Bevell should be fired is perhaps the most insane, short-sighted, and ungrateful thing about Seattle Seahawks fans. And it's still a really big group of people who believe that. Maybe it's because a lot of people want to see some heads roll after every loss and they can't bring themselves to blame the head coach, like many fans in other cities do, because Pete Carroll is God. (This may also explain the trickle-down effect that ultimately hits Tom Cable every other week.) They also can't blame the defensive coordinator because A) "He" gets hired away every other year and B) Everybody loves the Seahawks defense. It's their bread and butter.
So time and time again, Bevell gets the blame. Let's unpack that for a second.
Bevell was hired in 2011 to replace Jeremy Bates, who was Carroll's first hire as offensive coordinator in 2010. In his first season as the OC, Seattle was 28th in yards and 23rd in points. The Seahawks then drafted Russell Wilson with the 75th overall pick in the draft out of Wisconsin, and certainly Bevell had a little something to do with that; after all, Bevell was the Badgers QB from 1993-1994, setting several school records.
In 2012, they improved to 17th in yards and ninth in points.
In 2013, they were again 17th in yards, but improved to eighth in points on the way to winning the Super Bowl.
In 2014, they were ninth in yards and 10th in points.
In 2015, the Seahawks finished fourth in yards and fourth in points.
Over the last four seasons, Seattle has ranked 3rd, 4th, 1st, and 3rd in rushing yards. Over the last four seasons, they've ranked 7th, 6th, 14th, and 5th in net yards per pass attempt. They were 4th in offensive DVOA in 2012, 7th in 2013, 5th in 2014, and 1st in 2015.
Offensive coordinators so rarely ever have a track record as good as Bevell's that ever last longer than two or three seasons. Why not? Because across the board, people like Bevell get stolen away to be head coaches somewhere else. The fact that he hasn't been might be somewhat attributed to Carroll getting the credit for their success (as a former secondary guru though, this hasn't stopped Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn for getting credit for his defenses and getting head coaching gigs) and perhaps that Wilson is what makes the go kart go. But should the Seahawks repeat their offensive performance from a year ago, not only will they make the playoffs and possibly get another Super Bowl ring, Bevell will also be getting that head coaching gig of his own.
And then Seattle fans may be asking "What happened?" should a new guy come in for the 2017 season and struggle to get the same results.
For years, everybody sort of ignored the all-time great rushing numbers being put up by the Seahawks and attributed 99% of that success to Marshawn Lynch. They might say, "Yeah, so what? Why can't you pass the ball better?" Well sure, Wilson was usually near the top of the charts in passer rating and efficiency, but what about the things that really matter like YARDS and TOUCHDOWNS. (Okay, touchdowns matter.) Bevell's offense responded with one of the best seasons by a quarterback in NFL history.
110.1 passer rating, 34 touchdowns, 8.3 Y/A (Wilson leads the NFL in Y/A since entering the NFL). Wilson was amazing. And the rushing offense was still amazing with Thomas Rawls in the absence of Lynch. And one of Seattle's greatest "weaknesses," the wide receiving corps made up of guys who were too small to headline a passing offense, became its greatest strength.
Doug Baldwin led the NFL in catch% for wide receivers (minimum 50 targets) at 75.7%, he was also first in touchdowns (14), and third in yards per target (10.38) behind only Sammy Watkins and Rishard Matthews. He got most of the attention, but his two sidekicks were hardly trailing him.
Tyler Lockett got noticed plenty, making the All-Pro team as a returner and making some highlight plays as a receiver, but he was also incredibly efficient. Lockett finished seventh in catch% (73.9) and ninth in Y/T (9.62). He was targeted 69 times last season, but if he were just as efficient on 100 targets, he would finish with 74 catches and 962 yards with nine touchdowns. Great numbers for a player who will only be 24. Especially great if he's playing alongside two other receivers who could also top 800 yards.
But of course there's also Jermaine Kearse, the receiver who is definitely a step below the other two but who also came through last season as a safety valve for Wilson. Kearse was ninth in catch% (72.1) and fourth in Y/T (10.07). It's easy to see the correlation between these two numbers: If you catch most of your targets, then each target becomes more valuable. If you average 19 yards per catch that's great, but if you only catch 50% of your targets, it's making for a lot more wasted throws.
All three were also ranked in the top 5 among all wide receivers in DVOA. (Baldwin 1, Lockett 3, Kearse 5.)
Wilson rarely wasted throws when making attempts towards these three players last season. And I don't just attribute that to Wilson being a fantastically accurate QB, or these players having amazing ballskills, or Bevell drawing up incredibly innovative high-percentage plays -- I think it's a combination of all of those things. No one thing can be as good without the other two. And when you look ahead to 2016 and see Wilson, Baldwin, Lockett, Kearse, Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, Nick Vannett, Luke Willson ... It's hard to not get excited and wonder, "What's next?"
"How much better can it get than having the best offense in the NFL last year, by DVOA?"
I don't know. But the fact that I still see people commenting that Bevell should be fired tells me that there probably is no level that this team can reach to appease some folks. So ignore that noise and focus on what's here:
Possibly the greatest offensive show this city will ever see.