Seattle Seahawks

Darrell Bevell often thinks about Super Bowl call: “I am strong”

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, right, stands with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Seattle.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, right, stands with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Seattle. AP

He’s been the outcast, the most vilified Seahawk on an otherwise beloved team.

He’s the reason when they lose.

He’s why Seattle isn’t defending two consecutive Super Bowl championships right now.

The Seahawks have lost five times this season. So he should have been fired five times already.

Yes, Darrell Bevell has been hearing you. He’s heard it all.

In fact, the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator and play-caller is, in one way, just like you. He’s still thinking about the decision to pass instead of run Marshawn Lynch from the 1-yard line in the final seconds of Super Bowl 49. New England’s Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s throw instead, costing the Seahawks another NFL title.

Bevell, of course, is the guy who made that call.

“There’s really not times that don’t go by where you still think about it,” he said Wednesday, 10 months and eight days since his choice derided worldwide as the worst in Super Bowl history.

“I know how I feel about it. I know the feelings it conjures up in side of me when I think about it. But it’s one play. I have to look at it that way and put it behind me. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t have a reaction to it. But it’s one play, and I’ve got to continue to move on and continue to move forward. If we continue to live in the past we never get to where we want to be.”

What has Bevell learned about himself since the play, the firestorm of criticism directed at him after it, then the continued calls for his job earlier this season?

“I’ve learned that I am strong. I’ve learned that I can take a lot of weight on my shoulders,” Bevell said, his eyes twinkling and voice filling with pride. “I’ve learned I have a lot of support; there are a lot of people that were there for me.”

Such as Pete Carroll.

From inside the locker room of University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, minutes following the interception, through current preparations for the surging Seahawks’ game Sunday at Baltimore (4-8), Bevell’s boss has been behind him.

Carroll has had unwavering support for Bevell, whom he made Seattle’s coordinator. Carroll insisted it was his decision to change from a run-heavy formation to a pass at the end of the Super Bowl; it was Bevell’s choice for the spread formation and the play that sent No. 4 wide receiver Ricardo Lockette on his ill-fated slant route. Carroll continued to publicly support Bevell through the offense’s initial malaise earlier this season. And he’s doing it now through the wondrous three-game winning streak in which Wilson is playing the best football of his career and the revived offense has scored 106 total points and averaged 459 yards per game.

“I love Darrell as a play-caller,” Carroll said. “He knows how to allow us to be a physical running football team and still be explosive in the passing game. There’s a really cool stat: look at the percentage of explosive passes that we have, check where that is.”

The Seahawks lead the NFC and are third in the NFL in plays of 10 yards or more rushing and 25 yards or more passing. Seattle has 72 of those, in 762 total plays. That 9.82 percent is behind only Pittsburgh (10.33) and Buffalo (9.84).

If you include pass plays of 20 yards or more, the Seahawks have 99 explosive plays. Twenty-seven of those have come in the last three wins.

“That’s an indicator of when we decide to throw it, we’re making things happen. And he’s been consistently that,” Carroll said of Bevell.

“There’s talk otherwise and all the stuff and all that. I think he’s a terrific caller and I love the way he calls the games.”

The 45-year-old Bevell said what has made it easier to keep focused through all the negativity from the outside is his family. Specifically, his father, Jim, and what he learned from him while at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“I was brought up really well. And my dad was my high school coach,” Bevell said. “He was always on me, and he was going to be harder on me than anyone else that was going to be out there. The one thing (he) always (said) was, ‘Never let them see you sweat.’

“I think, because I have that demeanor, some people think it doesn’t bother me, or whatever. But you got to let it go. You have to keep it inside. I internalize a lot of things. But then I just keep moving forward.

“And I played the position of quarterback (at the University of Wisconsin). You get more credit than you deserve, you get more blame than you deserve … so you learn those things as I was growing up. And it helps me today.”

On Wednesday, Bevell and Carroll confirmed reports Brigham Young had interest in Bevell for its head-coaching vacancy.

Bevell isn’t interested.

“I want to be a head coach, that’s definitely true,” he said. “But, right now — there’s no good time for us right now. We’re doing things that we want to do. We are doing things that really have been unprecedented, obviously with going to two Super Bowls and, you know, we are going to make a push to continue to do that. And I want to be a part of it.”

Bevell said that hours after Carroll said he spoke with BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe this week. Carroll said the timing is wrong for Bevell.

“I did talk to Tom Holmoe, who is an old friend of mine; we worked together with the Niners,” Carroll said. “We have talked and just to let them understand we’ve got a long season going on. And they’ve got to do their job, get ahead and get their decisions made. So Tommy’s going to keep working at it.

“Darrell would be an awesome choice for them. But he’s not available. He’s going to run with us and do what we’re doing. They’ve got recruiting and all kinds of stuff. So the timing isn’t going to fit.”

Bevell has interviewed for head coaching jobs in recent years, notably the Washington Redskins opening that Jay Gruden got.

Doug Baldwin has been one of Bevell’s most vocal supporters in the locker room and through the media, before and after February’s Super Bowl. Baldwin, who has five touchdowns in the last two weeks, doesn’t want to imagine the Seahawks offense without Bevell.

“It’d be a big hole to fill, if Darrell left,” Baldwin said. “The thing about Darrell Bevell is, he knows everybody’s strengths and weaknesses in that he’s tailored the offense to accommodate those strengths and weaknesses. So whatever the perception is on the outside, he has given us opportunities to be successful. …

“If we lost him it would be a great impact.”

That’s not happening. Not for the foreseeable future.

And you get the feeling if Carroll and the Seahawks haven’t given up on Bevell by now, after all he has been through the last 10 months, maybe they never will.

Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle

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