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.’’

Lions vs. Saints: Five things to know

The Lions hope to extend their win streak to two games when they host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Detroit (1-2) is coming off a 26-23 win at Arizona while the Saints (1-2) lost to Green Bay, 37-30, last week.

Of course home field advantage means nothing with no fans allowed at Ford Field. When Matt Patricia was asked about it on Friday, he smiled. It is what it is.

Still it hasn’t been pretty under Patricia even in pre-COVID seasons.

“Look, I’m not going to live in the past as far as the numbers. I think we all know what the numbers are,’’ Patricia said on a Zoom call. “From that standpoint, we’re obviously just trying to push forward and get better and go. I think you’re right. The teams that are consistent in this League, the teams that have won a lot in this league over a long period of time, have been able to establish that home-field advantage scenario.’’

In 2019 the Lions were 2-6 at home. In 2018 they were 3-5.

“ We’re just trying to go out and just be consistent in the moment right now and see where that goes from there,’’ Patricia said.

Five things to watch on Sunday:

1. The offense needs to build on its effort in the win over the Cardinals. Tight end Jesse James played a big role and the return of Kenny Golladay provided a much needed spark. Matthew Stafford had his best game of the season with two touchdown passes and zero interceptions. But they were 2 of 6 in the red zone. “There (are) times where we try to run it in. There’s been times where we try to throw it in. We just have to be able to put it all together – whether it’s play calls, whether it’s execution of the specific plays, but we can definitely be better down there,’’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “That’s a focus. I believe the week before we were two-for-two in the red zone. So it has to become more consistent.”

2. Keep giving the ball to Adrian Peterson who is averaging 4.9 yards per carry over the first three games.  He had 22 carries in the win at Arizona.  “This guy is a freak of nature now. I don’t know where that wall is or where he’s going to hit it. The guy is always asking for more,’’ Bevell said.

3. After zero turnovers created by the defense in the first two games, they had three interceptions of Kyler Murray. Keeping him and the Cardinals’ offense was a huge part of the close win. The secondary is expected to have Desmond Trufant back in action. (Justin Coleman should be back soon too.) 

4. While the Saints have stumbled to a 1-2 start, never underestimate quarterback Drew Brees. He’s thrown six touchdown passes against just one interception. Patricia said he sees no difference in Brees. “I think you always look at the quarterbacks that have been in the League for a long time. Is there anything that shows up that’s different: arm strength, mobility, what they’re doing from a communication at the line of scrimmage standpoint – guys that are established like that,’’ Patricia said. “I’ve played against Drew Brees for a long time. I have the utmost respect for him, and his arm talent and his arm strength is still phenomenal. I don’t really read in to all that stuff.’’

5. However, the defense’s focus needs to be on running back Alvin Kamara who has three rushing and three receiving touchdowns. “It puts a lot of pressure on everybody. The guy’s highly, highly productive, and (Drew Brees) is really good at – if he doesn’t like what he sees down the field, he can be quick, or he can be late and get the ball in the guy’s hands,’’ defensive coordinator Cory Undlin said. “Once it’s in his hands, it takes everybody to get the guy on the ground. So, you’ve got to pick your spots when you’re calling the game.

Prediction: Lions 27, Saints 24

Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford feels good, not concerned about back issues

ALLEN PARK — Matthew Stafford said he’ll be ready to go for the offseason workouts.

The Detroit Lions quarterback is not worried about his back injury so he’s not sure why it should be an issue going forward.

“I’m not concerned about it, that should make people feel good. I’m the one living with the back. I feel very good about it,’’ Stafford said on Monday during the team locker clean-out period.

The 31-year-old quarterback missed the final eight games of the season with broken bones in his back. Sounds like the same back injury as a year ago, but he said it is not.

He’s confident the back won’t be an issue going forward because of how he feels right now. 

Stafford was off to a hot start — on pace for nearly 5,000 passing yards — before he was injured in the loss at the Oakland Raiders. 

He said the offense under new coordinator Darrell Bevell felt like a good fit. 

“Felt like we were doing some good things, obviously always room for improvement but I was liking the direction we were going in,’’ Stafford said.

He wouldn’t project on when he could play but said he is throwing the ball.

“I feel really good which is good. I’ve had quite a bit of rest and I think I’ll be feeling really, really good pretty darn soon to tell you the truth,’’ Stafford said.

Stafford, who turns 32 in February, just wrapped up his 11th season with the Lions. He doesn’t seem concerned about the window closing on his career. 

“I think every offseason is (important). If I was going to be 29 or 28, I  wouldn’t come into the offseason thinking ‘Oh, I’ve got years,”’ Stafford said. “When we come back here in April and again for training camp we’re trying to win right now. If that’s not our goal every season then I’m missing something because that’s what I think it is.’’