The latest head coaching candidate to walk through the Arizona Cardinals’ Tempe training facility is somewhat familiar with the area.
Though the team wasn’t in the Valley while Darrell Bevell was growing up, the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive coordinator — a Chaparral High School product — said his familiarity with the NFC West, where he’s coached the last two seasons, could be advantageous.
“Faced San Francisco twice a year, faced Arizona twice a year, faced St. Louis twice a year already the last two years,” he said in a press conference following his interview with the team Wednesday. “So there’s some familiarity there.
“I know a lot about the defenses, obviously, that I’ve been facing more than I do the offenses, and that’s something I’ll be able to get up to speed on, but I think that helps.”
What would also help is the coach’s experience working with quarterbacks. Having worked with Brett Favre and Russell Wilson, among others, it is apparent he knows how to get the most out of his passers.
The Cardinals could certainly use improved play from the position.
“I haven’t sat down and got to watch each and every one of the quarterbacks,” Bevell said, noting he has seen a little bit of Arizona’s signal callers. “I know it’s been a tough situation.”
The Cardinals turned to John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer, and while Kolb was the best of the bunch, none were both effective and consistent.
“That’ll be, if something happens that I’m the head coach, that will be something that I’ve got to rectify that, got to figure out what will be the best thing for the Arizona Cardinals and go from there.”
Bevell, though, said regardless of position, it’s just important to cater things to a player’s strengths while minimizing the impact of their weaknesses.
“That’s what I’ve tried to do, and there’s no better example than Russell Wilson this year.”
Russell Wilson may be Bevell’s trump card.
A third-round pick out of Wisconsin, Wilson earned the starting job out of training camp and went on to post one of the most impressive rookie seasons in history. Wilson completed 64.1 percent of his passes and threw for 26 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions. He led the Seahawks to the second round of the playoffs and left the field with a lead before the defense allowed the Falcons to kick a game-winning field goal in the final seconds.
So yeah, what Bevell accomplished with Wilson is rather impressive.
“It was my job to figure out what he did well,” the coach said. “You can see, if you watched us play the first game here in Arizona to the last game that we played there in Atlanta, we evolved and we changed.
“It was all changing to do what was best for him, but then also to do what was best for the other guys that are around him to all be successful.”
One of the few times Wilson was not successful was that Week 1 matchup with Arizona. The Cardinals’ defense left an impression on Bevell.
“The first thing that I think about is the pressure that they bring, the confusion that they create,” he said. “They’ve done a great job of that; they get turnovers.
“They like to really wreak havoc on the offense.”
Bevell said the Cardinals “made a mess of things”, and complimented how fast and hard they play.
Coincidentally, some would say the team has also made a bit of a mess of their coaching search, which has gone on for more than two weeks and has seen more than a half-dozen names linked to the post. Of course, the team is doing its due diligence, and it makes no sense to rush into a hire.
So Wednesday was about Bevell, who may have been brought in rather late in the process but believes he has learned a lot over the course of more than 15 years as a coach.
“All throughout the process of becoming a coach in my career I think you prepare yourself to do something like this one day, and you never know when you may have a chance to do that,” he said. “All along the way I’ve been watching the coaches that I’ve been around, I’ve kind of been taking in the things that they do well, watching the things that I think ‘OK, I would do that differently.'”
Bevell said it’s been about waiting for an opportunity that has finally come.
“I definitely feel that I’m ready,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of time in, I work really hard, and someone’s going to have to take a chance but I’m real excited about it.”