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Why Darrell Bevell’s run with the Seahawks is about to end

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A couple reasons 2017 is his last season with Seattle

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
i’m not walking away you’re walking away
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks fans have opinions about their offensive coordinator.

If the reign of Darrell Bevell were a siege, this is how it would play out. His detractors, the invading forces, would batter the walls over and over, citing his inability to get the offense moving quickly. They would storm the castle with accusations that he failed to properly integrate potent weapons such as Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham, failed to develop an effective running game after Marshawn Lynch’s departure, and should their assault be successful, their pillage move would be to lay any existing offensive success at the feet of transcendent talents such as Beast Mode, Russell Wilson, and maybe even Doug Baldwin.

City of Bevell defenders would counter any onslaught with an archer army whose relentless, indiscriminate arrows would show the Seahawks offense to be consistently ranked at the top of the league in various objective categories, even as the personnel turns over. They would pour containers of burning tar over the assailants, stoked with the fires of creativity and flexibility they attribute to Bevell.

Wedged between the rock of pro-Bevell forces and the hard place of anti-Bevell enthusiasts — this is where we find the very real likelihood that 2017 is our OC’s final season. Put in the most unsubtle, pithy way, The Darrell Bevell Show has had, well, a long run, but its end will come to pass. Either because he’s too good to stay, or not good enough to hold on to his job.

Scenario One: Bevell orchestrates another second-half offensive surge...

...thereby becoming one of the hottest commodities on the coaching market. Bevell has been interviewing for head coaching gigs for quite some time now. Coordinatormates Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn have parlayed Seattle’s dominant defensive display into lucrative coaching contracts. Why shouldn’t Bevell?

In 2011-2016, the second-half Seahawks consistently got better at scoring points, the longer the season went. Five of the six years, they outdid their first-half selves. The famous/infamous 150-point explosion over three games in 2012 does not skew the overall numbers.

Games 1-8 under Bevell since 2011: 999 points, or 20.8 points per game.

Games 9-16 under Bevell since 2011: 1,320 points, or 27.5 ppg. Substantial increase of 6.7 ppg.

The difference is not just striking, it strikes one directly in the nose region of the face. In-season adjustments look like one of the Seattle offense’s calling cards.

For the same six seasons, the Seahawks finished 23rd, 9th, 8th, 10th, 4th and 18th in total points scored.

In weighted DVOA, the Seahawks took 19th, 1st, 9th, 5th, 1st AGAIN and 16th.

In points per drive, your Seahawks were 24th, 5th, 5th, 8th, 3rd and 19th.

The pattern has emerged — a pedestrian offense in 2011 and 2016 brackets a superior one between 2012 and 2015. One that gets better as the year advances.

There is little doubt that Bevell can adeptly coordinate an NFL offense. Add in his five years as the Vikings’ OC (2006-2010) and his six years alongside Brett Favre in Green Bay (QB coach and offensive assistant for 2000-2005), and the resume is full. He can do the job, he’s proven it, and if the Sehawks offense produces its typical second-half surge, he’ll get interviews this offseason again, because results. And I do think a team will take a ride on the Bevell Bus. The Browns just drafted a mobile quarterback and might tire quickly of Hue Jackson; the Giants are going to go 2-14 and few coaches survive that kind of season. Chuck Pagano’s Colts are a mess; John Fox’s Bears remain bad news. A dozen FBS schools will make a change. Bevell has the scent of success, the years in the league, and the resume that will look bright to at least a few headhunters.

But let’s say, just for fun which isn’t fun, that instead of seeing another Seahawks offense awaken and dominate, the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan.

Scenario Two: Bevell presides over an offense that never finds its mojo...

...thereby making him expendable. Yes, despite the high historical success rate. Why? Because by league standards and practices, offensive coordinators are recyclable and compostable.

Of the 32 men running offenses today in the NFL, 13 are in their first year of doing so. Another 13 are in their second or third year. More than three-quarters of OCs are brand-new or relatively new hires. (Hey, maybe that has something to do wtih how so many offenses appear unwatchable this season.)

With 26 OC’s crossed off the list, that leaves just six guys who’ve lasted five or more years in their current position:

  • Mike Shula in Carolina (5)
  • Harold Goodwin in Arizona (5)
  • Todd Haley in Pittsburgh (6)
  • Josh McDaniels in New England (6)
  • Bevell himself (7)
  • Pete Carmichael in New Orleans (9).

You’ll notice, of course, that all six enjoy the professional company of a franchise quarterback who has won (or appeared in) Super Bowls. Well, and Carson Palmer too, hi Carson, sorry about the playoff exits.

Offensive coordinators don’t last long in one place in the NFL. Part of that is that their bosses get fired with regularity. But the ones who stick do so in part because of existing proven talent. The rationale often propounded is, any coordinator could make a Drew Brees- or Ben Roethlisberger-powered offense march down the field. Does the same argument not apply to Russell Wilson and his... very particular set of skills?

Now, a person with knowledge of the Seahawks might object to the idea of Pete Carroll firing a coordinator. It’s happened exactly once in seven and a third seasons. It’s a rare occurrence. And that was in early 2011, when Jeremy “Fourth-Down Fade” Bates was let go. In favor of Bevell himself.

There’s circumstantial evidence piling up that Bevell fails at one important job: putting Seattle’s elite offensive pieces in position to perform like elite offensive pieces. The Seahawks traded draft picks for Percy Harvin — a first and a third and a seventh! — only to see him score one regular-season touchdown here. Bevell vouched for Harvin, as part of the process to bring him to Seattle.

Later, the acquisition of Jimmy Graham cost the Seahawks their starting center and 80 units of draft position. Graham caught 26 TDs for the Saints in his last 32 games there, then just nine here in his 32 games. All things considered, it’s fair to wonder if the Graham trade backfired because of a failure to integrate him in the same way the Saints did. (I support the trade wholeheartedly and would cheer it again, but it’s fair to wonder.)

In addition, there’s an excellent chance that Carroll is more attached to assistant head coach Tom Cable than Bevell. Who’s to say that Carroll doesn’t value a fresh set of eyes on the offense, that he doesn’t harbor some regret over the playcall that ended XLIX, or that he feels Bevell’s scheming around the offensive line’s continual foibles is inadequate?

A third option exists, sure: no change

The third way is most certainly on the table — Bevell could do well enough to stay right where he is, but not well enough to land a head coaching job, and return for 2018. But I think that option to be less and less likely with each passing game. The second-longest tenured offensive coordinator should either be:

  1. one of the best in the league, virtually un-fireable;
  2. getting a promotion;
  3. or content where he is.

Which is maybe the case! The thing about Darrell Bevell is he might be one of those coaches who is successful at coordinating a piece of the puzzle, but doesn’t possess the charisma or drive or leadership qualities or whatnot to lead an entire program at the college or pro level. And hey — there’s nothing wrong with that. Managing an NFL offense is only one step short of the very summit of one’s field. You wouldn’t call a company vice president unsuccessful or unfulfilled because she didn’t become President or CEO.

Nevertheless, Bevell seeks out promotions in the offseasons. Probably he’ll get one. Especially after another playoff trip, another playoff win, another second-half surge. In other words, the usual Seahawks routine.

Two polls are better than none, right?

Poll

Will Darrell Bevell be the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator for the 2018 regular season?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Yes
    (1934 votes)
  • 57%
    No
    (2585 votes)
4519 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Should Darrell Bevell be the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator for the 2018 regular season?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Yes, definitely
    (309 votes)
  • 8%
    Sure I suppose
    (421 votes)
  • 8%
    Undecided / Don’t have the foggiest
    (385 votes)
  • 50%
    Nah, time for a change
    (2353 votes)
  • 26%
    Absolutely not
    (1227 votes)
4695 votes total Vote Now