I’m a little surprised there isn’t a Seattle-area band named “Blame It On Bevell.”
Or that somebody hasn’t petitioned to change the name of the Cascadia Subduction Zone to “Bevell’s Fault.”
Pinning culpability for just about any malady or hardship in the Pacific Northwest on Seahawks’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell seems commonplace among bloggers and tweeters.
I’ve never thought he’s worthy of such derision.
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Bevell has coordinated two Super Bowl offenses, and last season, in the first post-Marshawn Lynch year, helped the Seahawks rise to No. 4 in the NFL in offense — the third-best in franchise history.
In almost every season he’s served head coach Pete Carroll, along with line coach Tom Cable, Bevell has been instrumental in turning around slow starts and gotten the offense revved up to nearly unstoppable levels down the stretch of the schedule.
So I think it’s time to give a tip of the ready-sheet to Bevell for getting things rolling again as Seattle heads toward the postseason. Credit him, too, for helping minimizing the damage of any number of negative factors that might have taken the Hawks out of contention early this season.
Every week Bevell has had to adapt the scheme to Russell Wilson’s changing health situation, as well as finding ways to work around mismatches along an offensive line whose players/positions seemed to have been drawn out of a hat at the start of camp.
Given the changing circumstances, Bevell, Cable and Carroll had to face the demands of trying to win games in ways that were counter to their customary identity — with a run-pass balance.
When you can’t consistently run block, you’ve got to try to pass the ball. And when you can’t pass protect for very long, you’ve got to get rid of it in a hurry.
And when your mobile quarterback is taped and braced from ankle to shoulder, well, you’ve got to get creative.
It was ugly at times. In three of their games, the Seahawks scored one or no touchdowns. Against Buffalo, they ran only 12 times for 33 yards, with their biggest gain (13 yards) coming on an end-around route.
No question, they’ve been helped along by a defense that has kept them in every game. After the eighth game, Seattle was 26th in total offense and 30th in rushing, but still had a 5-2-1 record.
The last two weeks, though, with Wilson returned to health and the offense responding with a much more aggressive approach, the Hawks have scored 31 points against a New England team that was No. 2 in the NFL in scoring defense, and added 439 yards of offense against an Eagles’ defense that was ranked No. 6 overall.
“We’re really pleased to see the offense find a way to create big plays, changing the field and putting points on the board,” Carroll said. “Hopefully we continue to keep pushing. The balance we saw in the rushing and passing game was what we’ve been pushing for.”
Against the Eagles, the Hawks passed 32 times, counterpointed with 30 rushes (for a season-high 152 yards).
They relied on some creative approaches with tight ends and backs helping linemen pick up pass rushers, and using play-action fakes to slow defenders. At one point, they unleashed a flashy end-around pass from Doug Baldwin to Russell Wilson that resulted in an easy touchdown.
It added up to 300 yards in just the first half of Sunday’s game. The output allowed the Seahawks to zoom up to No. 16 in the league in offense.
“We spent a number of weeks in flux trying to figure out what we could do,” Carroll said of the early offensive struggles. “We had to be very patient.”
Fact is, having Wilson and power back Thomas Rawls healthy makes a lot of play calling and offensive scheming look good.
And there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Seattle still struggles getting touchdowns in the red zone, and at times the blocking still collapses and Wilson is left to turn the play into a decent gain on his own.
But the term “explosive plays” now refers to big-gainers and not something that detonated behind the line of scrimmage because of botched execution.
They’re picking up yards and points with a balance of rushing and passing that will make them hard to beat in their final six games.
Getting this offensive hodgepodge to this point has been a laudable effort.
“I think Bev has done a fantastic job of adapting and keeping us going and keeping us in the positive and continuing to take care of the football like we have,” Carroll said. “And (giving) us a chance to win more games.”
Yes, credit where it’s due. Bevell’s earning it.