Bears interviewee Darrell Bevell has come far from time with Vikings
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org January 12, 2013 11:02PM
Darrell Bevell has been a key factor in the emergence of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. | Tom Olmscheid~AP
Updated: February 14, 2013 6:59AM
In 2006, days after turning 36, Darrell Bevell accepted an offer to be the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings.
But he was hardly some wunderkind because Brad Childress — who hadn’t called plays in Philadelphia — essentially doubled as the Vikings’ head coach and offensive coordinator.
There were fewer things more awkward then Bevell’s news conferences. He obviously didn’t want to do them, whether because he was too shy or too uncomfortable answering questions probably more suited for Childress.
The chain of command was clear.
“As a younger coach, he didn’t get a ton of respect from vets,” said a former Vikings receiver, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Brad ran the offense.”
But Bevell’s authority increased, especially with the arrival of Brett Favre — whom he “coached” in Green Bay — and his departure to Seattle, where he’s wrapping up his second season as coordinator.
Only this time, Bevell is running the show, asserting his authority and playing a key hand in one of the more remarkable seasons ever by a rookie quarterback, especially one not taken high in the first round.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III went 1-2 in the draft, and Russell Wilson went 75th. But Wilson was the first to earn a playoff victory, and he finished fourth in the NFL with a passer rating of 100, 23.5 points better than Luck.
The Seahawks’ offense ranked 17th overall but shined late in the season, powered by Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch and keyed by clutch plays by the cool Russell.
On Saturday, Bevell was scheduled to interview with general manager Phil Emery for the Bears’ coaching vacancy in Atlanta, where the Seahawks will face the Falcons on Sunday.
If the Seahawks win, the Bears aren’t likely to wait for Bevell. But he has matured as a coordinator, and some of his former players believe he has the makings of an NFL coach.
“He’s done a great job, wherever he’s been,” said former Vikings quarterback Sage Rosenfels. “He’s been on winning franchises, around winning head coaches and some great players.
“He had Aaron Rodgers as a rookie, then Brett Favre. Then Tarvaris, [Jackson] and now Russell Wilson. He’s had success with older and younger players, and that’s a tribute to his ability to match the offense to match the player and his skill set.”
Jackson didn’t pan out, which was one of the reasons Childress didn’t last in Minnesota, and Bevell isn’t already a head coach. A former second-round pick, Jackson flashed potential but never played at a consistent enough level to complement Adrian Peterson.
After leading Wisconsin to a Rose Bowl victory as the starting quarterback, Bevell steadily worked his way up the coaching ranks. He’s intelligent, a hard worker, and a man of high integrity.
But I always wondered whether the straight-laced Bevell could connect with everyone on a roster, particularly the ones who don’t have a choir-boy backgrounds as he did.
One former Vikings defensive starter likened Bevell to Ned Flanders, the annoyingly perfect next-door neighbor to the Simpsons.
“I don’t know if he could handle the shenanigans,” the player said.
Russell, for one, doesn’t want Bevell going anywhere.
“I pray that Coach Bevell stays here, but I also pray for the best for him as well,” Wilson said this week. “Whatever is best for him and his family, but at the same time he really helped me develop.”
The Associated Press revealed its All-Pro teams, and four Bears made the cut. Brandon Marshall and Charles Tillman were named to the first team, while Tim Jennings and Julius Peppers made the second team.