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O'HARA'S FINAL THOUGHTS: Bevell getting ready for first game as interim head coach

Detroit Lions-Chicago Bears Final Thoughts: Darrell Bevell getting ready for his first game as interim head coach and Random Thoughts on the Lions' positions, a key matchup with the Bears' defense and my prediction.

The practice schedule that Darrell Bevell set up in his first week as interim head coach of the Lions was not just for the offense, defense and special teams.

It helped prepare Bevell to be a head coach. He spent part of the week with his staff preparing for additional responsibilities and the decisions he'll make in his step up from offensive coordinator to running the entire team.

It's a big leap, from coaching the offense to having final say on every play and decision.

"Every opportunity, something I'm doing this first week, is new," Bevell said. "It's really exciting. It's been a fun time. I've got a lot of great support staff that's helping me with that.

"To be honest with you, on Sunday during the game calling plays – being the head coach -- I'm not 100-percent sure how that's going to go."

One man's opinion: I take that last line of "not being 100 percent sure" as a good sign that he isn't walking into his new position thinking he knows everything.

Communication during the game, when decisions are made on the fly on everything from strategy to throwing the challenge flag with the play clock running, is a vital area that Bevell wants to make sure goes smoothly.

Bevell worked on that Friday and Saturday, before the team headed to Chicago to play the Bears.

"Then we move our focus to actual gameday," Bevell said. "Make sure our communication is clear. What's going to happen ... where I am ... which line (on his headset) ... so the guys who need to get to me can get to me.

"And the decisions that need to be made. The game situations. That's going to be the most important part, so we nail those.

"I feel really comfortable with that. We have great people that are going to be helping me with that."

Bevell said he was "jacked up" last week when he was promoted to interim head coach.

None of that enthusiasm has waned, but there is a demeanor Bevell wants to project that is based on advice he got from his father as a young quarterback to "never let them see you sweat."

"I want the guys to be able to look over to me, and they see somebody who's got it under control," Bevell said. "Somebody who's very poised. That doesn't mean you can't show your excitement at the moment.

"I'm just ready to let it rip. I'll be in the moment and see how it happens."

Random Thoughts:

On Lions' offense: I wonder if Bevell will call plays differently as interim head coach than he did as offensive coordinator.

In the last six games, Bevell called a run on the first play of the Lions' first possession in all six games – five times for Adrian Peterson, once for D’Andre Swift. In three of those six games he called runs for Peterson on the first two plays.

On Lions' defense: I wonder if coordinator Cory Undlin will be more aggressive rushing the passer with a unit that has just 16 sacks, sixth fewest in the league. That could be difficult because of injuries.

On Lions' special teams, coverage: It's been good most of the season, but All-Pro Cordarrelle Paterson averaged 36.7 yards on three kickoff returns in the opener with a long return of 45 yards. You have to be prepared for Patterson to return every kickoff, even if it's nine yards deep in the end zone.

Special teams, weather: Punter Jack Fox leads the league in gross (50.3) and net (45.8) averages, but weather could play a role for the first time. The Lions have played their games in domes or in good weather so far this season. Windy City weather is unpredictable. The temperature is projected to be below 40 degrees.

Key matchup, Bears' interior defense: Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and inside linebacker Roquan Smith give the Bears strength up the middle.

Hicks, who returned to practice after missing last week's loss to the Packers with a hamstring injury, has 3.5 sacks and leads the Bears with 14 quarterback hits. Smith leads the Bears with 15 tackles for loss.

Prediction: The fact that the Bears are favored by only a field goal indicates that there is little faith in Mitchell Trubisky, despite his four-game winning streak over the Lions, and that home-field advantage has been negligible in the 2020 season.

Here's the strategy for the Lions to win: Play like they did in getting a 23-6 lead over the Bears in the opener; don't play like they did when Trubisky threw three fourth-quarter TD passes to give the Bears a 27-23 victory.


Pick: Lions 17, Bears 13.

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