Lions Matthew Stafford likes excitement that interim coach Darrell Bevell brings

Of all the Lions, quarterback Matthew Stafford probably knows interim coach Darrell Bevell best. The two have worked together closely since Bevell started as offensive coordinator before the 2019 season..

Bevell was named to replace Matt Patricia on Saturday after the coach and general manager Bob Quinn were fired.

Bevell said he’s jacked up and ready to go during a media Zoom call on Monday.

“I’m asking the guys to come in with a refreshed attitude, ready to work No. 1, but ready to have a good time and let them play with their hair on fire. Let them play fast, let them play free,’’ Bevell said.

He mentioned the word fun repeatedly. And, like Stafford, neither of them would not disparage the past regime. Both are only looking forward.

However, a close look between the lines shows clearly not enough fun was being had by the Lions probably for the last three seasons. Winning leads to fun and there wasn’t much of that under Patricia.

The Lions have five games remaining, starting at Chicago on Sunday, to finish the year on a somewhat positive note and to show what Bevell can accomplish in his first stint as a head coach.

“When you’re a player and you get that coach that’s excited like that it’s a fun thing. As a player this is a fun game, it’s an exciting game, let’s go have some fun and play with some excitement and passion and I know that Bev brings it in his own way, every person is different,’’ Stafford said. “He’s going to be comfortable with who he is, he’s going to bring his energy that’s authentic and natural to him. It’s on us to make that come to life on the field on Sundays and win games.’’

Stafford is excited for the defensive players to get to know Bevell who has met twice with the players on Zoom. Per the NFL, all team facilities were closed Monday and Tuesday to help try to control the coronavirus spread.

The quarterback said the biggest thing for the players is to respond to what Bevell will bring to the team.

The 50-year-old Bevell started his NFL coaching career in 2000 as assistant quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers. From 2003-05 he was elevated to quarterbacks coach working with Brett Favre.

That connection hasn’t been lost on Stafford who shares a bit of the gunslinger attitude that was typical Favre.

“I think from Day One when I first met (Bevell) he’s always been the same guy. He’s been positive, upbeat. He loves coming to work — he loves the game of football,’’ Stafford said. “He’s lucky early in his career, he got to spend a lot of time around Brett Favre. It’s a similar kind of feel where they just love the game for the game. I know Bev has great appreciation for Brett and it probably rubbed off on him a little bit on how much fun a grown man can have playing a kids game. He brings that kind of youthful joy to the game and always has since I met him.’’

BONUS: Stafford was curious to see the Broncos’ game on Sunday, more for how often his buddy Sam Martin had to punt since all three quarterbacks were quarantined. Denver’s starter was a practice squad wide receiver (Kendall Hinton) who had never taken a snap in practice. 

The Lions would not be in such a dire predicament.

“For us, we actually kind of have a sneaky talented group of throwers,’’ Stafford said. “(Mohamed) Sanu’s passer rating is perfect. (Danny) Amendola throws it good. (Jamal) Agnew dropped a dime on me at Thanksgiving that I dropped. There’s endless possibilities, we’ll keep defenses guessing with that one, but hopefully we don’t have to find out.’’

Detroit Lions fire Matt Patricia, Bob Quinn; start search for replacements

General Manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia were fired on Saturday by Detroit Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp.

After two-plus seasons, Patricia’s record was 13-29-1 and 4-7 this season after two straight embarrassing losses.

Hamp, principal owner and chairwoman of the Lions, made the announcement along with team president Rod Wood on a Zoom conference call late Saturday afternoon.

“I am very dedicated to turning this ship around,” Hamp said.

Patricia will be replaced by offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on an interim basis.

Earlier she had informed the players of the firings through a Zoom meeting along with Bevell. Wood said a few players stood up and had positive things to say moving forward

Hamp said the last two losses to Carolina and Houston played a factor in her decision.

“Ten days ago we looked like we had a good chance to be playoff bound. Both of those games were extremely disappointing and it just seemed like the path going forward wasn’t what we wanted it to be,’’ Hamp said. “We thought this was a good time to make a change.’’

She will work together with Wood starting immediately in the search for new leadership. 

Hamp said they haven’t clearly defined the attributes they will be seeking for a general manager and coach.

“I promise you we are going to do an extremely thorough and comprehensive search for both positions,’’ Hamp said. “Yes, we have some ideas what we’re looking for but it’s not clearly defined.’’

Quinn was hired in January 2017 after Martin Mayhew had been fired late in the season. He kept coach Jim Caldwell for one season then fired him after a 9-7 season in 2017, saying that wasn’t good enough.

Patricia was hired by Quinn in January 2018 to replace Caldwell who had a  36–28 (.563) record, making him the first Detroit head coach (who lasted at least one season) to have a winning record since Joe Schmidt, who led the team from 1967 to 1972.

Patricia, 46, had a connection with Quinn going back to their days with the New England Patriots. Patricia had started with the Patriots in 2004 as an offensive assistant. He served as defensive coordinator from 2012 to 2017.  He was part of three Super Bowl championships.

Detroit was his first head coaching stint at any level. In Patricia’s first year he led the Lions to a 6-10 record, followed by 3-12-1 in 2019. 

The Lions went more than a year without winning a home game. They won at Ford Field on Oct. 27, 2019, and snapped that ugly streak with a 30-27 win over Washington on Nov. 15.

In Hamp’s opening remarks she showed appreciation to Quinn and Patricia.

“On behalf of my family I want to thank Bob and Matt for their hard world and their dedication to the Lions organization over the past several years,’’ Hamp said. “They’re both fine men and we wish them nothing but the best the rest of their careers.’’

Five reasons the Detroit Lions will draft cornerback Jeff Okudah at third overall

Lions GM Bob Quinn has pulled a few surprises in his first four drafts with the Detroit Lions.

He opted for tight end T.J. Hockenson a year ago who was not a popular mock draft pick for the eighth overall pick. In 2018 offensive tackle Frank Ragnow was his top pick at 20th overall. In 2017, he drafted Jarrad Davis at 21st overall and in his first-ever draft in Detroit Taylor Decker got the nod with the 16th pick.

So what does Quinn have planned for this draft which starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday?

Good question. He has never drafted this high — the Lions own the No. 3 overall pick, along with eight other picks.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah seems to be the popular pick for the Lions in the first round. That doesn’t mean Quinn will necessarily draft him, but he certainly looks like the top contender in that spot.

Here are five reasons the Lions will draft Okudah:

1. The cornerback has the ideal size — he’s 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds — and the Ohio State credentials. He is set to become the 14th Buckeyes’ cornerback to be drafted in the first round since 1991. He’s also got speed. Scouts say he’s exceptionally quick and can close in on the ball. Face it, the kid has it all.

2. Quinn wants an impact player with that third overall pick. “We have enough guidance in that range that we think we can do that. … Our goal is to get impactful players throughout the draft, whether they’re starters in the middle rounds or just backup and role players and special teams players later in the draft. Our goals haven’t changed, the circumstances have obviously,’’ Quinn said in his pre-draft press conference via Zoom.

3. With the trade of Darius Slay to the Eagles, the Lions have a big need at cornerback. They signed free agent corners Desmond Trufant and Tony McRae. Trufant is not a match for Slay one-on-one. 

4. It’s not common to draft a cornerback early. In the past 19 drafts only five cornerbacks have been drafted in the top five. Quinn said he had no problem with doing so (he wasn’t talking about a specific player) if the prospect was worth the pick. “If we go back to free agency a year ago, we signed Justin Coleman to play nickel and we paid him like a starter because we feel like you need three starting level corners to have a productive defense. So, why teams have shied away, I can’t really answer that. You have to ask the teams that have passed. I’ve never been this high in the draft to experience that,’’ Quinn said. 

5. Okudah is the top of the deep class at cornerback. CBSSports.com says, “(He’s) the best coverage CB in this class and it’s not even close.’’ If Quinn doesn’t grab him with the third overall pick, he’ll have a chance to draft corners later in the draft. But Okudah is a game-changer and could step in right away. Remember Slay only started four of 13 games he played in his rookie season. He wasn’t Big-Play Slay out of the gate, but turned into one of the best in the NFL. That’s exactly what could happen with Okudah.