Mackey: I'm coming around on idea of Darrell Bevell as Vikings coach
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Like many of you who follow the Minnesota Vikings closely, when I haven't been consumed by stories involving assistant coaches who allegedly want to "nuke" homosexuals, I've been thinking about which qualities I want in the next Vikings head coach.
• A younger, offensive-minded guy who can keep up with the innovation we've seen in the NFL over the past few seasons.
• Someone who works well with all quarterbacks, and someone who is able to develop a young quarterback, because at some point the Vikings are going to take another stab at drafting a "QB of the future."
• Or a defensive-minded guy who can hire the right offensive coordinator to develop a quarterback.
• Perhaps someone who wears hooded sweatshirts with the sleeves cut off, or someone who chews gum really fast and pumps their fists on the sidelines.
• Preferably someone who can share and implement experiences from a winning, progressive, innovative culture (this is why it frustrates me that the Twins never go out and pluck people from teams like the Cardinals, Rays, etc.).
Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden might fit most these qualities. So might Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, although he could also fit a negative quality - hiring someone based on their proximity to success. In other words, just because someone was a web developer at Google doesn't mean they drove the bus for Google's success. The smell test is more important than the resume in most cases.
Another man who fits the aforementioned qualities (save for the hoodies and gum chewing) and who is garnering a lot of attention from other teams is current Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, whom the Vikings are reportedly expected to interview this weekend.
I can hear the reaction from Vikings fans now...
But consider these factors: Not only has Bevell thrived as a coordinator in Pete Carroll's revamped Seattle culture, he also has helped to develop one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, Russell Wilson. If we stripped away his association with the Brad Childress era - an era, I might add, that produced one of the best offenses in recent NFL history in 2009 - we'd all be intrigued by Bevell.
Bevell's candidacy also comes with ringing endorsements from former Vikings Gus Frerotte, who told the Pioneer Press Bevell is "very precise and he's very detail-oriented," and Darren Sharper, who took his Bevell endorsement to a different level in an interview with 1500 ESPN.
"First and foremost, I would definitely support Darrell Bevell being the head coach," said Sharper, a defensive player who spent time on teams from 2000-2008 on which Bevell was an offensive coach with the Packers and Vikings. "Playing with him, as far as coaches in Minnesota, I mean he just has a great mind for being an offensive coordinator and also has the persona and the personality that really bodes well for a head coach.
"And you just look at what he has learned from being underneath Pete Carroll and working with him, you can tell and see that the players love playing for Pete Carroll, you can tell by the energy that they play with. Coming from a winning organization, he knows how to address things in a proper way and in a professional way. (Bevell's) pedigree is just perfect for a head coach, and I'm a vast supporter of Darrell Bevell if he has a chance to get that job. And I'm sure that once he goes into Minnesota and interviews, he'll come out with high remarks and probably be leading that candidate list."
It's interesting to hear from Sharper on these matters because, unlike some other NFL analysts with agendas, he has no desire to get into coaching. Sharper told me earlier this year, "I'm a man who likes his free time," which is why he praises where praise is warranted, and he criticizes when people or teams deserve it. He just gives straight-up, honest opinions.
Now, I've had two main criticisms of Bevell that need to be flushed out before I put all of my limbs on the bandwagon:
1.) First off, should we be concerned that Vikings offenses between 2006 and 2008 (the pre-Brett Favre years) were decidedly one-dimensional and mediocre? To which Sharper responded, "That wasn't him. That wasn't him," presumably hinting at either Childress, bad quarterbacks, or a combination of both.
Bevell's offenses, even with Favre and Russell Wilson, have always had a run-first flavor to them. But when Bevell has a solid general under center (like with Favre in 2009 and Wilson the past two seasons), his offenses have ranked 2nd, 9th and 8th in scoring.
And let's be honest - the longest-tenured coaches in the NFL right now are Bill Belichick, Marvin Lewis, Tom Coughlin, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin, Mike Smith and John Harbaugh. Their quarterbacks are Tom Brady, Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. If you don't have a quarterback - or aren't able to help develop one - you aren't going to put up points and win playoff games.
2.) My second question about Bevell - one of the nicer, more engaging NFL coaches you'll find - was whether he is enough of a "leader of men," so to speak.
"Oh yes, no doubt," Sharper said. "No doubt. I think he has learned that. When I was working with Bevell, he was a younger guy. ... So he's had plenty of time to get seasoned, and to kind of learn that sort of persona - how to be a leader of men and motivate guys. ...
"He's a guy that carries himself the proper way and demands respect, because he's been around coaches - he's seen how to do it the right way with Pete Carroll, and he's seen how to do it the wrong way with Brad Childress."
It's interesting that a lot of Vikings fans lump Childress and Bevell into the same bin. But Sharper is on the record as saying Childress is the worst coach he's ever played for when it came to player relations, which is why Childress lost the locker room. If he doesn't lump them in the same category, neither should we.
So, while I might have laughed at the notion of Darrell Bevell as a head coach a few years ago, not only am I now open-minded about it - I think I've got all four limbs on the bandwagon.