No, the Seattle Seahawks Should Not Fire Darrell Bevell
Darrell Bevell's comments after Super Bowl XLIX weren't ideal. After making a questionable call at the end of the biggest game of the season, talking about Ricardo Lockette's physicality -- or lack thereof -- doesn't exactly show leadership.
But that, along with the call that was made at the end of Sunday's Super Bowl, doesn't mean the man should be fired from his job. Yet, that's what people all over the Internet are saying: Darrell Bevell should be fired.
Clearly there's a little Recency Bias here.
Bevell's Job in Seattle
After spending time in Minnesota as the Vikings' offensive coordinator, Bevell's spent the last four years leading the Seahawks' offense. His time in Minnesota can best be described as mediocre, peaking in 2010 when some quarterback named Brett Favre helped lead the Vikings to a fifth-ranked offense according to numberFire's Net Expected Points metric. Outside of that season, the Vikings' offense ranked 29th, 17th, 21st and 26th in the NFL.
Seattle's been different though. Bevell's first year -- which came without Russell Wilson -- was average, ranking 23rd in the league in schedule-adjusted NEP. It was, however, an improvement from what the Seahawks saw in 2009 and 2010, where they had the 26th- and 27th-best offense in the league, respectively.
The 2012 season changed everything. Yes, Wilson's quarterbacking is a huge reason for this, but to say Bevell didn't manage things well would be unfair. Take a look at the Seahawks' ranks within total Adjusted NEP, Adjusted Rushing NEP and Adjusted Passing NEP over these three seasons.
|Total Offense||Rushing Offense||Passing Offense|
So wait a second. People want Bevell out of Seattle after three straight seasons ranking in the top eight in total offense? Do folks not realize that this season's rushing attack was the best ground game the NFL has seen since the turn of the century (per NEP, of course)? Or how about the fact that Russell Wilson has been historic to start his career?
Meanwhile, Bevell's done this with a sometimes questionable offensive line, and wide receivers who may not even start on half of the NFL's rosters. No, really -- the best wideout this year on the Seahawks was Doug Baldwin, and he ranked 39th in Reception Net Expected Points among wideouts. Even on a per-target basis, Baldwin's efficiency ranked 36th of the 81 wide receivers with 60 or more targets this year. As a number-one receiver, that's nothing to write home about.
Let's not forget what Marshawn Lynch was before Darrell Bevell, too. Running the football is less effective than throwing it in today's NFL -- the average run in 2014 saw a -.03 Rushing NEP, meaning it lost expected points for a team. When you have backs who run the ball 200 or more times, you're bound to see negative Net Expected Points totals as a result.
Since Marshawn Lynch has been coached by Bevell, he's yet to finish a season with worse than a 1.53 Rushing NEP total.
Let me put that into context for you. Among 200-plus attempt running backs in 2014 (17 of them), 41.1% finished with a negative Rushing NEP. In 2013, this was 54.5%, and 2012 saw the ratio at 47.8%. In general, a little less than half of the high-volume runners in the NFL are bound to see a negative season-long Rushing NEP. Marshawn, as I said, hasn't been below that zero mark since Bevell became offensive coordinator in Seattle.
And this isn't just because Marshawn Lynch is a monster. During his three full seasons as a Buffalo Bill, Lynch's per rush NEP average was -0.05. That's below average. Now Lynch has been the best running back over the last three years in the NFL, and he's in Hall of Fame conversations.
But let's fire Bevell.
This is a classic case of hot takes and Recency Bias. As I said, mentioning Ricardo Lockette's execution on the big Super Bowl interception in a post-game presser isn't a good look. But thinking Bevell should be fired because of that and one play call is an even worse look.
The fact is, that call, while not very good, probably wasn't as bad as you initially thought. But more importantly, Darrell Bevell has been fantastic in Seattle. Giving up on him would not be smart.