DETROIT (AP) — Darrell Bevell is pumped about the opportunity to coach the Detroit Lions, and quarterback Matthew Stafford sounds relaxed and ready for these last few games of the season — no matter what the future holds after that.
The Lions finally cleaned house, firing their coach and general manager, and now the rest of the franchise can begin moving on.
“I hate the circumstances with which it happened, but it’s an opportunity,” said Bevell, who is now Detroit’s interim coach. “You’ve got to take full advantage of opportunities that you’re given, however they come your way. Like I told the players, I’m jacked, I’m excited. I get a five-game audition.”
Bevell has over a decade of experience as an offensive coordinator, including with the Lions. He was promoted to interim coach when Detroit fired coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn over the weekend. Ownership now has a lot of decisions to make about the team’s long-term future, and it’s not clear what the next few months could hold for the remaining coaching staff and many of the players.
Yet the decision to fire Patricia and Quinn may also bring about a sense of relief — at least there’s no more uncertainty and speculation about that. Bevell clearly wants his team to have fun during these last few weeks of the regular season, and Stafford is focused on the short term as well.
“Obviously, winning is a lot of fun. Losing makes it less fun, that’s for sure,” Stafford said. “Do everything we can to win. I think Bev’s probably speaking more to his personality and how he wants things to go. This is an opportunity for him, to put his stamp on it.”
Detroit is 4-7 this season and went 13-29-1 during Patricia’s tenure. The last game for the old regime was a 41-25 loss to Houston on Thanksgiving.
Any analysis of the Lions at this point should have less to do with the next game and more to do with what the next few years could look like.
There aren’t a lot of bright spots when a team plays poorly enough for multiple firings in the middle of the season. Still, when healthy, the Lions have the makings of a solid passing game. Receiver Kenny Golladay has been out lately with a hip injury, but he put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons before 2020. Tight end T.J. Hockenson leads the team in receptions in his second season.
The problem is that Stafford is now in his 12th season, and Detroit will need to decide whether to keep trying to build around him — or really start over with someone younger.
“As far as my future goes past this season, I’ll figure that out and talk about that later on,” Stafford said. “To me, I’ve got a lot of work to be done, as a team and as a leader. There’s a lot to be done here for the rest of the season.”
WHAT NEEDS WORK
The defense was particularly disappointing under Patricia, since he was a defensive coordinator for the Patriots before coming to Detroit. Last week was the third time this season the Lions allowed 40 points in a game.
Defensive end Romeo Okwara has six sacks this season and is closing in on his career high of 7 1/2, set two seasons ago.
Detroit’s draft results under Quinn have been underwhelming, and his final first-round selection — defensive back Jeff Okudah — has not had a great rookie season.
In addition to Golladay, the Lions were also missing Okudah (shoulder) and running back D’Andre Swift (concussion) in last week’s game. Defensive back Desmond Trufant aggravated a hamstring injury against the Texans.
11 — That’s the number of coaches, including Bevell, the Lions have had since they last won a playoff game during the 1991 season.
The Lions play at Chicago this coming Sunday. The teams met in the season opener, with the Bears rallying to win 27-23.