The Seattle Seahawks have fired offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, a source confirmed to The Seattle Times.
The news was first reported by Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com and KJR-AM 950 on Tuesday night.
Bevell had been Seattle’s offensive coordinator since the 2011 season, when he took over for Jeremy Bates, who was fired following the 2010 season – coach Pete Carroll’s first year with Seattle.
The Seahawks ranked 15th in the NFL in total offense in 2017 at 330.4 yards per game, but had increasing issues scoring and moving the ball as the season progressed. They were held to a combined 285 yards in late-season games against the Rams and Dallas.
Seattle ranked fourth in the NFL in total offense at 378.6 yards per game in 2015 but struggled with its running game the past two seasons following the departure of running back Marshawn Lynch.
The Seahawks did not confirm the news Tuesday night, but a source confirmed to The Times that Bevell had been fired, and that more moves could be coming in the wake of a 9-7 season that saw Seattle miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
The firing is the first of a coordinator for the Seahawks since the removal of Bates.
Bevell, a former quarterback at Wisconsin, came to Seattle following a stint as the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator from 2006-10.
He was at the offensive helm for some of the Seahawks’ greatest moments, as they won the Super Bowl following the 2013 season and set a franchise record for yards gained in a season in 2015 with 6,058, breaking a mark that had been set the year before with 6,012.
But the 2014 season ended with a play call that will go down as the defining moment of Bevell’s Seattle career – a pass from the 1-yard line in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX that was intercepted by New England’s Malcolm Butler, preserving a 28-24 win for the Patriots and denying a second consecutive Super Bowl title for the Seahawks.
Bevell and Carroll took responsibility for the call, but Bevell’s reputation took a hit with fans that might ultimately have been too much to overcome.
“It’s a terrible memory,’’ Bevell said in 2016, before a rematch between the Seahawks and Patriots. “Every time it comes up it sticks in your gut. … So it’s something that is always there, something I have grown from, something that I have learned from. But it ain’t going away. It’s always going to be there.’’
That Super Bowl loss came at the end of a 2014 season in which Seattle set a team record for rushing yards with 2,762. But Lynch was injured the next season and limited to nine games, and the offense began to be increasingly dependent on Wilson. He set a team record with 34 touchdown passes in 2015 that he tied again in 2017, the latter total also leading the NFL.
The 2017 season ended with receiver Doug Baldwin – who set a franchise record with 14 receiving touchdowns in 2016 – launching into a spirited defense of Bevell on the day following a 26-24 loss to Arizona that assured Seattle would finish without 10 wins for the first time since 2011.
“It’s not play-calling,” Baldwin said. “It’s not play-calling. We go into a game knowing what the defense is going to give us, the situations we’re going to be in. We don’t execute as a team. Offensively, that’s what we’ve seen countless times and time again, that we do not execute the way we should. And that’s on us as players. You guys can blame Bev all you want to, but the truth of the matter is, Bev is not the problem. Probably already said too much.’’
Carroll apparently disagreed.
One question now is whether this is the only move the team will make to shake up the coaching staff in the wake of maybe the most disappointing season of Carroll’s Seattle tenure.
Offensive-line coach Tom Cable also has come under much criticism for the performance of a group which many consider one of the primary problems with the offense. Seattle ranked 23rd in the NFL in rushing this season at 101.8 per game after ranking in the top four every year from 2012-15, seasons when Lynch was the team’s primary ballcarrier.
There has been speculation that other offensive position coaches could also be on the way out, and there had been talk that the defensive coaching staff could also undergo change, though it was revealed Tuesday night that former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will stay with the Los Angeles Chargers. There had been a report that the Seahawks could look to bring Bradley back to Seattle, especially if current defensive coordinator Kris Richard – who interviewed to be the coach of the Colts on Friday – were to head elsewhere.
It’s unclear who the Seahawks will turn to as a replacement for Bevell.
One possibility is former University of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, who worked under Carroll at USC from 2001-04 and again from 2006-08, and has been the offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons this season after having worked at Alabama in 2016.
Sarkisian was UW’s coach from 2009-13 before leaving to become the coach at USC in 2014. He was fired early in the 2015 season for several alcohol-related incidents. Sarkisian’s ties with Carroll and familiarity with a similar offense could make him an option.
Another candidate could be USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin, who recently interviewed to be the coach of the Raiders. Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie is a close friend of Seattle GM John Schneider.
And another could be Mike Shula, who was fired as offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers this week and was the coach at Alabama from 2003-06.