Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bevell's Edge

Just when I thought I was done talking about Brett Favre, along comes this. I caught a little commentary about the affair last night on ESPN, where John Clayton said that the whole affair would probably be resolved in a week or two and that, barring some amazing discovery in the phone records, there probably wouldn't be any real repercussions, except that, win or lose, the Vikings would be even less likely to make a deal with Favre than initially supposed.

The whole case revolves around whether Vikings Offensive Coordinator -- and former Packers assistant -- Darrell Bevell broke league rules by contacting Favre illegally to discuss the possibility of him coming to the Vikings. The team's hardly been reluctant to embrace former Packers the last few years -- Ryan Longwell and Darren Sharper, most notably, in addition to Bevell -- but if Bevell made overtures to Favre on his own, without the head coach, owner, or anyone else in management being aware, then he could find himself in some warm-to-hot water. And I don't think I'd mind that much.

I've always found Bevell a curious case. For those who are unaware, he was the starting quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers in 1993 and 1994 before moving on to a few college coaching jobs, then Offensive Assistant and then Quarterbacks Coach with the Packers from 2003 to 2005. Then, in 2006, Brad Childress lured him away from the green-and-gold and installed him as the Vikings' Offensive Coordinator, a post he still holds. Certainly, there are other factors involved with a team's offensive success, but it's not erroneous to state that Bevell has played a direct hand in the quarterback play of two NFL franchises for the last five seasons. All this from a man, who, for nearly four of those five years, was younger than the QB (Favre and Brad Johnson) he was instructing.

Now, let's take a look at that quarterback play, shall we?

Favre: 32 TD, 21 Int., 4.5% Int.

Favre: 30 TD, 17 Int., 3.1% Int.
Other: 4 TD, 2 Int.

Favre: 20 TD, 29 Int., 4.8% Int.
Other: 0 TD, 1 Int.

(Consider at this point that you're the QB coach for a man widely considered one of the greatest QBs of all time, and he just had the worst season of his career under your watch. Curious that you'd find not only a job, but a promotion, no?)

Brad Johnson: 9 TD, 15 Int.
Tarvaris Jackson: 2 TD, 4 Int.
Other: 0 TD, 1 Int.

Tarvaris Jackson: 9 TD, 12 Int.
Other: 3 TD, 2 Int.

I only include interception percentages for Favre's seasons to illustrate that, while his TD numbers were still pretty good, he had two of his worst three seasons, Int%-wise, under Bevell (with the third coming in 1993, his second full year as a starter). Yes, Favre's never been daunted by his high pick numbers, but he was probably worse at keeping the ball out of opponents' hands under Bevell than under any of his other QB coaches.

In total, quarterbacks under Bevell's watch have produced 109 TDs against 104 interceptions. Yes, he had an aging Brad Johnson, a young Tarvaris Jackson, and a (supposedly at the time) washed-up Brett Favre, and there are other ways to gauge a team's offensive success...but still, one would have to think Bevell's not on the sturdiest of ground, despite the team's recent success, largely attributed to Adrian Peterson's emergence.

(On a semi-related note, I always found it mildly amusing that the Vikings had a mediocre-to-bad offense from 1992 to 1997. Then they drafted Randy Moss and got a career year out of Randall Cunningham and suddenly their OC during those years, Brian Billick, becomes an "offensive genius." I don't think "throw deep to Randy" qualifies as a stroke of genius. At least nobody's ready to credit Bevell with "genius" status because of Peterson's strong play.)

If the Vikings sputter offensively in 2008, it will probably mean the end for Brad Childress; if so, Darrell Bevell will certainly follow him out the door, though even mid-season coordinator switches are not entirely unheard of. If it comes to that, Vikings fans shouldn't panic. The next guy could certainly do worse, but it's not a reach to think that he'll do better than Bevell has.

1 comment:

Virginia Viking said...


I agree, by and large, with your assessment of Bevell. While Minny's devensive coordinators can't seem to stay put, the offensive coordinator stays where he's not being promoted.

It is interesting to note, however, that once Bevell started calling the shots in 2007, the offense showed a marked improvement in creativity over the 2006 iteration, when Childress called his own plays.

- VV