O’Neil: Darrell Bevell couldn’t be the bad cop Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wants for Russell Wilson
The Seahawks need a bad cop for quarterback Russell Wilson.
That’s my first reaction to the news that Darrell Bevell is out after seven years as Seahawks offensive coordinator.
This isn’t about specific play calls or his game plan, and it’s certainly not about exacting a pound of flesh three years after a slant was called at the goal line in the Super Bowl.
This is about the voice that is literally in Wilson’s ear up until there’s 15 seconds left on the play clock, and in that respect I keep going back to one thing that coach Pete Carroll said during his appearance with “Brock and Salk” just days after his team’s season ended.
“Russ wants to be criticized,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Russ needs to be criticized. He wants to be great.”
Carroll went on to relay the story of how he sat in Wilson’s locker during halftime of the regular-season finale, right next to his quarterback, and asked him to turn the team around “in a way he hasn’t heard me talk to him.”
The fact that Wilson went and did exactly what his coach wanted in the second half against the Cardinals only reinforced the point.
The Seahawks want a more demanding voice for their quarterback. Not a jerk, certainly. And not a screamer. But they need someone who will speak to Wilson as unflinchingly as Carroll did at halftime – not because he needs to be held accountable, but because it’s the best way to get him to play better.
This isn’t about getting Wilson to do more. It’s actually about getting him to do less by giving him the kick in the pants necessary to start making throws earlier in plays to avoid the ad-libbing that has become too much a part of Seattle’s offense.
For Carroll, decisions on his coaching staff aren’t a verdict on past performance, but an assessment on what the team needs going forward. I know, I know. That sounds really confusing. Any decision to release or retain a coach has to be based on what he has done, but stick with me for a second.
The last time the Seahawks changed offensive coordinators was after Carroll’s first season when he fired Jeremy Bates, who was unpopular largely because of his inclination to throw deep fades in short-yardage situations.
And Bates’ firing was attributed to scheme differences. He was a coordinator who likes big throws downfield while Carroll wanted to run the ball.
One problem: That decision had nothing to do with football scheme or game plans. In fact, Carroll thought Bates was a prodigy in his understanding of the game of football.
The problem was cultural. Carroll wanted his staff upbeat and energetic, especially in practice and on the field. Bates was a grinder who worked in a window-less office.
Bates wasn’t fired because of the plays he called. He was let go because of how Carroll thought players were going to respond to him.
Now, seven years later, Carroll is making a change at offensive coordinator with an eye toward what will get the best out of his best player.