On Wednesday afternoon, the Detroit Lions presented four coaches to the media for the first time since their hire: offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp.
The four fielded questions for about 10-15 minutes each, as they explained their goals, their analysis of the team and their plans for 2021 and beyond. There was a lot to take in, so here are my six biggest takeaways from the pressers.
Prepare for Jared Goff to be the 2021 starter regardless of what the Lions do in the draft
Lynn, like every single Lions coach right now, is not permitted to talk about Jared Goff much because it would be viewed as tampering, even though Goff will be a Detroit Lion when the trade becomes official on March 17. Still, the media got creative in asking Lynn about Goff and a potential upcoming camp battle with a rookie quarterback, should Detroit go in that direction in the draft.
While Anthony Lynn admitted if a rookie quarterback wins the training camp battle, he should start in Week 1, he spent far more time talking about the benefits of sitting for a year or so.
“I’d love to see that rookie sit and watch for a little while,” Lynn said. “If he could watch for half a season, or watch for the first year like Patrick Mahomes did, I believe you can learn so much from the right veteran quarterback.
“Because a lot of rookies come in this league and they’re not ready. The speed of the game is twice as fast as what it was in college. They don’t have success and in today’s environment—with social media—things get out of whack and some of these guys lose their confidence and never get it back. So if I can sit a rookie, I will.”
Aaron Glenn likes the Lions’ defensive backs
When it comes to Detroit’s underperforming secondary, Glenn only sees potential. A roster full of athletes, Glenn sees a lot of parallels to when he took over coaching a young secondary in New Orleans. That secondary, by the way, finished top five in passer rating allowed and interceptions in 2020, and was top 10 in yards per attempt allowed.
“I had a young secondary with Marshon Lattimore, Vonn Bell, Marcus Williams. All those young guys, you get to grow these guys as pups,” Glenn said. “I’m excited about that. Jeff Okudah, first-year player. Amani (Oruwariye), young player. Even the two safeties we have, young players. I get a chance to mold those guys to exactly how I want those guys to play. I know A.P. (defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant) is going to do a hell of a job in that situation.”
Dan Campbell, indeed, was a huge influencer for coaching hires
To give you a sense of just how excited some of these coaches are to coach under Dan Campbell, here was special teams coordinator Dave Fipp’s answer to a question about his excitement level to inherit one of the best special teams units from 2020.
“No doubt about it. These guys played at a really high level a year ago. They have a bunch of really good players, but I’d say personally, for me, the thing I’m most excited about, honestly, is getting here and having a chance to work for Dan Campbell. He’s an unbelievable guy. He’s put together an amazing staff.”
For Aaron Glenn, it was their shared past. They’re both from Texas A&M. They played together on the Cowboys and they coached together with the Saints. With all those overlapping years, Glenn learned just how good of a person and strong of a leader Campbell was.
“Being with him for all these years, you get a chance to know the man more than the football coach,” Glenn said. “I’m attracted more to the man than the football coach, to be honest with you. You just know that the type of person he is, he’s going to bring in the right guys.”
Last year’s defense was poorly coached
Glenn didn’t outright say it, but he referenced the comments from Campbell a few weeks ago that suggested the players didn’t appear to know their assignments or play with any confidence.
“Dan said it. The players looked confused, with no confidence,” Glenn said. “And the one thing we need to do is we need to change that narrative of the players of their thinking so they can go and play with confidence and get them to play fast. What we’re going to do as a staff is make sure that happens. That’s our number one job.”
Anthony Lynn more than prepared to call plays
Lynn only has one year of offensive coordinator experience under his belt, but the 52-year-old coach quickly shook off any concerns that his lack of play calling experience may impact his efficiency in 2021. Though he has been the head coach for the Chargers since 2017, he has been heavily involved in calling plays.
“Over the past four years I had offensive coordinators, and I let those guys call plays, but I probably called a third of those plays,” Lynn said. “I was always involved. I don’t think that’s something I’ve forgotten how to do.”
This coaching staff is actually fun
The Lions’ coaching staff wasn’t afraid to show off their personality a little bit in their first pressers in Detroit, following Dan Campbell’s lead. There was Glenn, who was asked about his point of view as a player, when he made the tackle on the play in which Barry Sanders eclipsed 2,000 yards back in 1997. His reaction:
“Oh, you’re really going to bring that back up?” he said with a smile. He played along, though, and told the story and how embarrassed he felt in the moment. Barry had just eclipsed 2,000 yards, but it was right on the dot. On the very next play, Sanders took it 51 yards for a game-clinching first down. Who was there to tackle him just short of a touchdown? Aaron Glenn.
“When I chased him down, I looked up and there’s 2,000 yards. So I’m on tape tackling Barry Sanders for his 2,000 yards.”
Oh, and there was this notable moment between running backs coach Duce Staley and handsome managing editor Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit:
I love Duce. cc: @DetroitOnLion pic.twitter.com/Yyi9DisEEO— John Whiticar (@Whiticar) February 10, 2021
Of course, it’s easy to be personable and affable in the first press conference of the year. No adversity to speak of yet. Still, this already feels like way more personality than we got in the past three years combined.