RENTON – In some ways, Pete Carroll’s hiring of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell represents a shift back to a scheme the Seattle Seahawks had so much success with during the Mike Holmgren era.
With a twist.
Bevell, 41, is a West Coast offense believer who cut his teeth in the NFL in Green Bay under Mike Sherman – one of the many Holmgren disciples who went on to become a head coach.
The same terminology and verbiage that Holmgren used in his precise, rhythm passing attack is what Bevell uses.
But what makes Bevell’s offense different is his belief in a run-first approach driven by the zone blocking scheme preferred by new offensive line coach Tom Cable and Carroll.
“Ideally, I’d like to be a guy that runs the football, and then uses that run to set up all of the big plays that you try to get, the explosive plays,” Bevell said.
So far, Carroll is pleased with his new offensive coordinator.
“Darrell is an accomplished play caller,” Carroll said. “He owns the throwing game that we’re working with, he totally understands the concepts and the principles and the calling of our run game that Tom is really the kingpin in. He’s a young, bright coach that’s going to be a head coach someday. He’s just got his act together, and he gets it. We’re really lucky to have him.”
At his core, Bevell is a teacher on the field, which jibes well with Carroll’s style – an always-positive approach with less berating of players on the field.
It’s one of the reasons Carroll moved on from his previous offensive coordinator, Jeremy Bates.
“I feel like I teach really well,” Bevell said. “I like to go up and see exactly what happened, figure it out and then we can go and teach from that point and get the things corrected. And we try to keep tempo up here.
“We are really are preaching tempo, tempo. So if you’re stopping between every play and saying, ‘OK, here’s what I want to have happen,’ then you’re not getting that tempo. So we kind of coach on the run, and then we go in and watch the tape and make the corrections inside.”
Bevell’s handling of the Seahawks’ running game will be assisted by Cable, who was hired to pump up a ground attack that has not averaged 100 yards per game since 2008.
Bevell says that working with Cable so far has been a good experience.
“He’s a smart man, very intense,” Bevell said. “He brings a lot of the little details that I like to teach, and that he likes to teach.
“He has a high level of commitment and dedication that he expects from those guys, and he preaches it as well.”
With talented running back Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, Bevell’s offense led the league in rushing in 2007, averaging 164.6 yards per game. In each of his five seasons with the Vikings, Minnesota averaged at least 113.8 yards per game on the ground.
Bevell believes the physical style of Marshawn Lynch closely resembles Peterson’s.
“They’re very similar,” Bevell said. “They’re similar in that we have a “beast,” so to speak, in the backfield, and a very powerful player, a strong player. Both of them have a little different skill sets, but as far as overall play, they’re both tough to handle.”
A former quarterback and son of a high school football coach – his father, Jim, coached at Chaparral High in Scottsdale, Ariz. – Bevell sharpened his approach in the NFL in Minnesota and Green Bay.
He spent the last five years as the offensive coordinator for the Vikings. In Green Bay, he began as a quality control coach for Sherman and then was the quarterbacks coach for three seasons, where he established a relationship with Brett Favre, helping bring him to the Vikings in 2009.
Bevell credits his long relationship with former Vikings coach Brad Childress for his success.
Childress recruited Bevell out of high school when Childress was the offensive coordinator at Northern Arizona. Bevell redshirted there in 1989 and went on a two-year Mormon mission to Cleveland before attending Wisconsin.
By the time Bevell finished with his mission, Childress had become the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin.
“I learned a lot from him, and it goes all the way back from college,” Bevell said. “He taught me the game from the quarterback perspective.”
Bevell learned well. A four-year starter for Wisconsin, Bevell left the Badgers as the school’s all-time leading passer. His 67.8 percent completion mark set in 1993 still stands as the conference record.
That relationship with Childress helped Bevell land his first coordinator’s job in Minnesota. Bevell said Childress “kind of went out on a limb for me.”
“The first year he really did everything – called all of the plays and did that – so I could learn under him, finding out exactly how he wanted it done,” Bevell said.
“And then obviously he had enough trust in me to turn it over to me that next year. So all the offense I know from a major part comes from him. And then I take other pieces from Wisconsin days, and from my dad being a high school coach.”
Bevell has shown the same kind of loyalty as Childress, as he has helped bring to Seattle familiar faces including former Vikings receiver Sidney Rice and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
Jackson, who worked with Bevell for five seasons, sees a change in his coach.
“He’s a lot happier up here, I’d say,” Jackson said. “It’s a different type team. It’s a brand new start for all of us. We’re not looking back. Right now we’re just trying to work on us and get better.”
Exhibition: Minnesota at Seattle, 7 p.m., Ch. 5, 1240-AM, 710-AM
Inside: Gameday preview. B6 SEAHAWKS GAMEDAY
MINNESOTA (0-1) AT SEATTLE (1-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field
TV: Ch. 5
Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: Seattle holds a 7-6 advantage all-time in exhibition play; however, the Vikings beat the Seahawks, 24-13, last preseason in Minneapolis. Minnesota also handed Seattle a 35-9 loss at the Metrodome the last time the two teams hooked up in the regular season, in 2009.
Position battles to watch: The Seahawks like their depth at tight end after signing Zach Miller to a lucrative, five-year deal, along with three-year starter John Carlson still on the roster. However, there will be a pretty good battle between Anthony McCoy, out of USC, and Dominique Byrd for the third spot. At 6-5, 259 pounds, McCoy has the prototypical size for the position but lacks consistency, while Byrd has been one of the best pass catchers in camp so far. The battle for who will start at cornerback opposite Marcus Trufant continues. Last year’s starter Kelly Jennings gave up a deep ball to Vincent Jackson against San Diego, while Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner both had solid defensive plays in deep coverage. Jennings likely will not play tonight because he has not been cleared after taking a blow to the head a few days ago.
Injury report: Receiver Kris Durham (hamstring) is expected to get his first game action tonight. Ben Obomanu (shoulder) will not play. Defensive back Walter Thurmond (ankle), defensive tackle Ryan Sims (knee), defensive end Chris Clemons (ankle), cornerback Jennings (head), defensive end Pierre Allen (unspecified) and tight end Carlson (shoulder) all did not practice Thursday and likely will not play tonight. Receiver Deon Butler (leg), defensive back Roy Lewis (knee), tight end Cameron Morrah (toe) and defensive tackle Colin Cole (ankle) remain on the physically unable to perform list.
Eric D. Williams, staff writer