Darrell Bevell understands what ails the Arizona Cardinals.
“I truly believe that so goes the quarterback, so goes your team,” said Bevell, who interviewed for the Cardinals’ vacant head coaching position Wednesday and met the media afterward. “The Cardinals need to take a look at that position and figure out what’s best for them.”
Now for the stuff you might not have known.
Bevell’s hiring would make for an appealing local story. He played quarterback at Scottsdale Chaparral High for his father and coach, Jim Bevell, who later moved to Phoenix Arcadia High. He also started his college career at Northern Arizona before switching to Wisconsin to play for current Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez.
Wisconsin’s 1993 season marked the birth of the Badgers as a current national powerhouse. Wisconsin went 10–1–1, earned a Big Ten co-championship and the school’s first Rose Bowl invitation since 1963. They beat UCLA 21-16 in that game.
But of much keener interest to the Cardinals would be Bevell’s body of work with NFL quarterbacks. Bevell was an offensive coordinator/QB coach with Green Bay and Minnesota while Brett Favre played for those clubs. He also has been the Seahawks offensive coordinator the past two seasons, which means he garners some of the credit for rookie Russell Wilson’s remarkable year.
In a rich class of rookie quarterbacks that also included Washington’s Robert Griffin III and Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Wilson led the Seahawks to a wild-card berth and within a few seconds of the NFC Championship, after beating out expensive free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn in training camp to earn the starting job.
Wilson completed 252 of 393 passes (64.2 percent) this season for 3,118 yards, 26 TDs, 10 interceptions and a passer rating of 100 that ranked fourth in the NFL, providing a case study for Bevell’s ability.
“There’s no better example than Russell Wilson,” Bevell said. “We had a rookie quarterback come in. We loved the guy, we loved his intangibles, how he played the game and how important it was to him.
“It was my job to figure out what he did well. If you watched us play the first game (of the season) here in Arizona (a loss) to the last game in Atlanta, we evolved and changed.”
Bevell has plenty of familiarity with the NFC and the NFC West, having “faced San Francisco twice a year, faced Arizona twice a year and faced St. Louis twice a year already the last two years.”
He is the fourth known candidate to interview for the Cards head coaching position (the fifth if unconfirmed Todd Haley rumors are true), joining defensive coordinator Ray Horton, recently hired Chargers head coach Mike McCoy and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
The Cards also plan to interview Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians this week.
Bevell, 43, is young by NFL coaching standards, and he hasn’t had many opportunities to jump to the next level. He also interviewed with the Chicago Bears (they hired Marc Trestman), but that was his only other opportunity to interview for a head coaching job.
Still, he feels his experience has prepared him for this promotion.