Now it is fair and true that Darrell Bevell has been the mastermind behind offenses that have run the ball anywhere from very well to really good. This is the calling card that automatically presents itself at the door whenever he has shown up to work for any organization. But it’s not the only calling card.
Near the end of Bevell’s time in Minnesota, he had a guy names Brett Favre at quarterback. in 2009 Favre passed for 4,202 yards with 33 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions. In 2010, Favre’s final season as well Bevell’s in Minnesota, Favre suffered through an injury-plagued year at age 41 and finished with only 2,509 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions.
Now while that last season together was not a banner year for the Vikings passing game, when Favre was healthy he was given the opportunity to throw the ball routinely, even with Bevell at the reigns.
In Seattle with Russell Wilson, the Seahawks loved to run the ball, but Wilson was still a very productive passer under Bevell and even eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark twice. while finishing with 26 touchdown passes or more in four of the six seasons they were together including 34 twice.
The point? While Patricia wants Bevell to build a powerful ground game, Matthew Stafford and the passing game won’t be forgotten.
Do the Patriots keep Tom Brady under wraps and just make him a game manager? No, and while Matthew Stafford is not Tom Brady, with the Patriots being Patricia’s formative coaching world, we should expect to see Stafford still asked to win plenty of games.
The biggest difference for next season is that Patricia is simply giving Stafford more help. The Patriots never seem to have a marquee running back, but they always have a ground game. Meanwhile, the Lions seem to have found a star running back in the person of Kerryon Johnson. So, of course, they want to utilize his vast talents to assault opposing defenses, yet those talents should only make Stafford’s job easier when he goes to the air off of play-action.
For those who have started singing the songs of Matthew Stafford’s demise and about the boring run, run, run offense that Darrell Bevell will bring to Detroit, they have gotten the cart before the horse.
The Lions may often run two tight end sets, but expect them to pass off of this traditional run formation often, and not only attempt to grind through opposing defenses, but to also stretch those same defenses with a diverse passing game.
Remember that important Patricia word; versatility. This may be the one and only time that Matt Patricia will tell us the whole truth. Both he and Bob Quinn have already stated they want to be ready to match up against opponents in whatever way gives the Lions offense the advantage. Some games they may run the ball 30 times, others they may pass it 40 times. But the point is to do whatever works.
Will the Detroit Lions lead the NFL in rushing yards? Maybe or maybe not. But don’t expect Matthew Stafford to just be a ‘game-manager’ that the Lions will be trying to win games in spite of. He will still have more than his share of opportunities to carry this team when needed. Just ask Matt Patricia.