TWENTYMAN: Bevell keeping offense going despite injuries

When it’s all said and done in about a month, and the dust settles on the Detroit Lions' 2019 season, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell might just go down as the Lions MVP.

Bevell is on his third starting quarterback and fourth starting running back, and yet the Lions' offense still ranks in the top 10 in total offense (ninth) and passing (sixth). The most important statistic on offense is scoring, and despite all the injuries, Detroit’s still in top half of league in that department, averaging 23.3 points per game, which ranks 13th.

From Matthew Stafford to Jeff Driskel and David Blough, and from Kerryon Johnson all the way to Bo Scarbrough, Bevell has done a masterful job tailoring scheme to the personnel he has around him and what they bring to the table.

It hasn’t resulted in more wins, and that’s ultimately what coaches are judged on, but given the hand he’s been dealt due to injuries, Bevell's really done a fine job.

Stafford was having a Pro Bowl caliber season before a back injury derailed him. He was leading the league in explosive passes of 20-plus yards and his 8.6 yards per attempt is a career high.

Driskel had to step in after the Stafford back injury, and Bevell was able to adapt the offense and accentuate Driskel’s athleticism with more RPO (run pass options) and designed runs. The Lions had a chance to win late in each of Driskel’s three starts.

After Driskel suffered a hamstring injury, Blough got the start on Thanksgiving in front of a national audience. On the third play of the game, Bevell dialed up a look Detroit identified on tape based off a Chicago coverage they knew they could get wide receiver Kenny Golladay open down the field. It resulted in a 75-yard touchdown on Blough’s first NFL completion. There was no dink or dunk with the third-string quarterback in the game, which other coordinators might decide is the best course of action with an inexperienced signal caller at the helm. Bevell stayed aggressive and gave the Lions a chance to win the game.

“I think going into it, I felt comfortable and prepared, and we had a great plan,” Blough said after Detroit’s 24-20 loss Thursday. “On the short week even, we had a great plan going into the game and to take our shots.

“We were hoping they would think a guy like me would come in, throw some check downs and so, we were going to throw it around a little bit, credit that to Bevell. You saw how open Kenny (Golladay) was. It made great plays. I think that’s where a lot of the credit belongs and the quick start for us.”

Blough finished with 280 passing yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 7.4 average in yards per attempt, which means Detroit stayed aggressive throwing the down the field even with their third-string quarterback in the game.

Bevell’s had a lot of shifting parts on offense due to injury, especially at quarterback, but still that side of the ball has remained rather consistent most of the season. That’s a credit to the players, but especially a credit to Bevell, who’s proving to be a terrific hire for head coach Matt Patricia.

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