Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is still in the early stages of the first year at his position, but his efforts are already gaining recognition from around the NFL, illustrating why he was considered a rising star in the coaching community.
Last Sunday’s defensive performance against the Baltimore Ravens was arguably his best called coaching performance to date. The defense adjusted from a 3-4 base to a 4-3 look with a lot of subpackages built in to counter the athleticism of the Ravens offense, specifically quarterback Lamar Jackson.
After the Ravens put up over 406 yards and 27 points of offense against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1, and 481 yards and 36 points against the Kansas City Chiefs, while Glenn managed to hold them to just 387 yards and 19 points (including just one touchdown) in Week 3. One of the keys was the Lions' ability to stop the Ravens' impressive rushing attack. After rushing for 189 and 251 yards in the first two weeks, the Lions limited them to just 116.
In addition to stopping the run, Glenn’s game plan disguised coverages, was aggressive in getting pressure on Jackson, and built on schematic concepts throughout the game. For example, after occasionally showing three off-the-ball linebacker looks and dropping them all into coverage throughout the first three quarters, Glenn showed the same look late in the fourth, but this time disguised the drop and sent Alex Anzalone on a blitz. Anzalone’s sack put the Ravens in third-and-long, which led to a forced throw from Jackson, and resulted in an Amani Oruwariye interception.
That ability to adjust concepts, as well as set up an offense with one look and bring another, led to a literal game-changing moment for the Lions.
Following this defensive performance, Glenn told the Lions media that he had started receiving phone calls from coaches around the league wanting to pick his brain on how to slow down the Ravens offense.
“I started getting calls from a number of people around the league just talking about, ‘Man, how do we defend these guys?’ And (acknowledging) how good of a job we did”, Glenn said on Thursday.
Glenn was appreciative of the calls, he said as much twice during his presser, but he was also not satisfied leaving that game with a loss.
“Man, I’m not into moral victories and I wasn’t even thinking on the level of, ‘Man, these coaches are giving me kudos, I guess, because of the way we defended them,’” Glenn continued. “But the only thing that I was thinking about was, ‘We had a chance to win and we didn’t win the game.’”
Glenn’s focus remains fixed on the Lions players, their future opponents, and winning.
When discussing the Lions' upcoming opponent, the Chicago Bears, he saw it as another opportunity “to continue to improve on my play-calling.” But at the same time, he also recognized that the praise from around the league is a confidence builder for him and the organization.
“That does give me, gives our players, gives our coaches, confidence that we can go in there and we can put a game plan in that’s going to help give us a chance to win.”