Offensive coordinator? That job’s a breeze.
There are more than 60,000 fans every Seattle Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field convinced they could do the job.
Just ask them.
If a receiver drops an open pass, it was Darrell Bevell’s fault.
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If the line doesn’t protect the passer, Bevell called the wrong play.
The widespread belief that being an NFL offensive coordinator can’t be harder than playing a Madden game has made Bevell a convenient scapegoat whenever the Seattle offense struggled in recent seasons.
Good heavens, another bubble screen? Really?
It has gotten more difficult for the coordinators in the stands to be critical this season, as the Hawks have risen to ninth in the NFL in total offense (up from 17th in 2013), have totaled 588 more yards than last season, and committed a scant 14 turnovers in 16 games.
The fact that Bevell is being wooed by other teams as a potential head coach is a testament to his reputation around the league.
And in a strange way, he has given greater evidence of his worth this season because of the degree of difficulty caused by injuries and personnel turnover.
Heading into this season he was asked, along with Tom Cable (assistant head coach/offensive line), to construct an offense that would exploit the explosive talents of receiver Percy Harvin.
And when Harvin proved underproductive and a distraction, and subsequently was traded away, the offensive staff had to reshape the scheme in the absence of Harvin.
“I think he does a terrific job,” coach Pete Carroll said of Bevell. “Particularly as the dynamics of the players has changed.”
It’s hard to apportion credit for the offensive production between Bevell and Cable, who is largely responsible for the No. 1-rated rushing game. But Bevell calls the plays.
“I’m so compatible with him and his play calling and his game planning and the utilization of the players, and the flexibility that’s necessary,” Carroll said. “He and Tom are the guys who lead the charge there on offense. They’re a really good team. Those guys are a great 1-2 punch there.”
After Week 6, the Hawks were 20th in the league in total offense — with a 3-3 record. While going 9-1 in the final 10 games, they rose to No. 9.
“We went back to our home base,” Bevell said of focusing on the rushing attack. “We just kind of got comfortable with who we are.”
The challenges of this season — injuries to offensive linemen, tight ends, their fullback, and the trading of Harvin — are the sort of thing coaches face every season. “You just do the best you can to be prepared for it and make adjustments when they happen,” Bevell said.
Receiver Doug Baldwin last week touted Bevell’s handling of the offense.
“There’s a lot said about Darrell Bevell and what he’s done with this offense — a lot of negative things out there,” Baldwin said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s done. I think he covers up a lot of our mistakes as an offense, the players’ inefficiencies. He’s done so much for our offense in terms of putting us in the right place to be successful, although sometimes we make it hard on him.”
In recent seasons, the Seahawks’ offense has been a growing, changing organism, adapting to the team’s needs. Adopting and stressing the read-option run attack, for instance, helped boost the team to last season’s Super Bowl.
“They’ve done a great job adapting; it’s a tough job. … I wouldn’t want to do it,” said guard J.R. Sweezy. “With personnel being in and out, being injured, and to get the game plan put together and getting everybody on the same page and getting us where we’re at is a credit to those guys.”
Sweezy sees how the preparation and scheming is polished to the point that “sometimes it’s amazing when it feels like everything we do is working and they’re calling the game right and making the right chess moves.”
After Wednesday’s practice, Bevell was asked about his job prospects, as Oakland and Buffalo are reported to be interested in his services as head coach.
He doesn’t know where those prospects stand, he said, but he likes to think that interest in him and other assistant coaches is a reflection of the respect the Seahawks engender around the league.
Certainly, his own efforts in shaping the Seahawks’ success has earned the attention he’s getting from around the league.
And should also earn a respite from some of the second-guessing in the stands.