It’s extremely early, but Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has already done a heck of a job winning over the locker room. Young players who stand to benefit most from Glenn’s addition have completely bought in already, and seem thrilled at the opportunity to work alongside him. Second-year cornerback Jeff Okudah, after just a couple of meetings with Glenn said “It just would have been nice to have these tools in my toolbox in my rookie year.” Similarly, safety Tracy Walker was clearly enthusiastic about both Glenn and defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant.
“I feel like those guys have coached some of the best corners and safeties in the NFL and I feel like they’re going to help transform my game and I’m listening to them and I’m bought in, all the way,” Walker said this week.
That’s all well and good. Coaching can have the biggest impact on young players, and based on last year’s performance, Detroit’s secondary could use a major upgrade in play.
But these young players also don’t have a great frame of reference because the last coaching staff was a complete disaster. It’s clear Matt Patricia and company rubbed a lot of people the wrong way during his three years in Detroit, so anything better than “complete disaster” is likely to draw praise.
However, veteran defensive tackle Michael Brockers has been around the block. He’s seen effective coaches and he’s seen failures. His defensive coordinator last year in Los Angeles was viewed as a strategic genius, and it landed that coordinator a head coaching job this cycle. His words, therefore, carry a lot of weight. While he’s still just getting to know Glenn, he’s already had some very flattering words about his new defensive coordinator in Detroit.
“I think the biggest thing with coaches and players is we have to have great communication, and he’s 100 percent the best communicator I’ve been around,” Brockers said this week. “Just being a player who’s played in the league, he has that understanding of—that perspective of—being a player. So when you ask him a question or something like that, he can definitely answer your question of where you need to be.”
For Brockers, it would be easy to be cynical about his new situation. He went from a Super Bowl contending team with a stud quarterback to landing in Detroit, a team in complete rebuild. That can’t be easy for an aging veteran player who was loyal to the Rams for the entirety of his nine-year career. But Brockers is looking on the positive side of things, and he sees a lot of potential, not just in the coaching staff, but in the players, too.
“Obviously over my career in the NFL, when you have three or four first-rounders on your team, you can constantly rotate guys and everybody is fresh on your defensive line and you can just get after it,” Brockers said. “So that’s what they’re doing, and they’re on the right track. One thing I can see, we have a lot of talent. A lot of young talent, but we have a lot of talent.”
Obviously, there’s a chasm between the Rams’ defense—who finished first in points allowed last year—and the Lions’—who finished dead last. But when Brockers is starting to see some promising signs of success in Detroit, that has to be a good sign.