Detroit Lions to Go With Interim-Interim Head Coach vs Buccaneers on Saturday

With Darrell Bevell out due to COVID-19, WR coach Robert Prince will lead the Lions

Robert Prince will lead the Lions
Detroit Lions wide receivers coach Robert Prince watches the action in 2015.
Getty Images

Favored by 9.5 points against the Detroit Lions on Saturday with the chance to lock up a playoff berth for the first time in 12 years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem like a pretty good bet to cover. That’s because the Lions, who have lost two in a row and have the worst point differential in the NFC at -100, will be down to their third-string coach.

Earlier this season, Detroit fired head coach Matt Patricia after he went 13-29-1 over two-plus seasons running things for the Lions. To replace him, the team promoted offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to be Detroit’s interim head coach.

But Bevell, who fired special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs earlier this week, was deemed a high-risk close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 positive case and will not be allowed to take part in Saturday’s game at Ford Field. The same can be said for defensive coordinator Cory Undlin, defensive line coach Bo Davis, defensive backs coach Steve Gregory and linebackers coach Ty McKenzie, all of whom are in quarantine.

So when the Lions (5-9) take the field against the Buccaneers (9-5), wide receivers coach Robert Prince will serve as the team’s interim-interim head coach and quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan, who has never been a playcaller at any level, will take over playcalling duties. Defensive play calls will be made by head coach assistant Evan Rothstein.

A former college offensive coordinator at Boise State, Prince has been with the Lions since 2014 and is the team’s longest-tenured assistant coach.

“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” receiver Danny Amendola said of Prince earlier this season. “Brings the juice every single day, gets guys in the right mentality day in and day out. Meetings, practice, games and an amazing coach to play for. I love him to death. Really, really happy to be playing for him.”

The Lions asked that the NFL move the game to Sunday so Bevell, Undlin, Davis, Gregory and McKenzie could complete the league’s mandatory five-day quarantine period and return to the sidelines, but that request was denied.

“I know that we did push to have things that can help us,” Bevell said. “It’s between the league and the club on that. I am disappointed. I know if the game was on Sunday, I’d be there, because the timeframe would be up, and really, all of these coaches would be there. So I think that’s the most disappointing part.”

Perhaps if the Lions were 9-5 instead of 5-9, the NFL would have granted the team’s request to postpone the game by a day. But with Detroit already eliminated from postseason contention, the league had less incentive to move the game in the same way they have for other teams earlier in the season.

Tough for the Lions. Good for the Bucs. Lay the points with Tampa Bay.

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