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Burning questions: What are the Lions going to do if Aaron Glenn leaves?

Breaking down potential options if the Lions lose Aaron Glenn to a head coaching opportunity this offseason.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

One of Detroit Lions fans’ biggest fears could come true this offseason. Their beloved defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn getting a head coaching job this offseason has been something that Lions fans have been worried about pretty much all season long. Well, it’s now a very real possibility as Glenn interviewed for the open Denver Broncos head coaching job last Thursday.

There’s reason to be concerned, of course, but it’s important to also consider the Broncos are expected to interview more than 10 candidates, most of whom have a little—or a lot—more experience than Glenn does. Plus, as of now, the Broncos appear to be the only team considering Glenn for a head coaching job. There’s still a very good chance Glenn isn’t going anywhere just yet. It does seem like his career is headed in that trajectory, but it may be a year or two before he’s given the chance.

But the Lions would be wise to consider contingency plans. So let’s talk about it. What should the Lions do if Aaron Glenn leaves for a head coaching job?

Promote from within

It seems weird to think about, but the Lions seem to have a deep coaching staff. We talked last week about how the Lions could promote from within for their offensive coordinator spot with tight ends coach Ben Johnson. The Lions have that same ability on the defensive side of things.

The first name that should be thrown in the hat as a possibility is defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant. The Flint native has been in the coaching game for some time now. He started in the high school ranks in 2010 and has been moving up ever since with stops at the University of Michigan as well as with the Washington Football Team and the Los Angeles Rams. If it doesn’t happen in Detroit, it’ll happen somewhere for Pleasant before you know it. The players already love and respect the guy too. They came to his defense after he was shown yelling at Jeff Okudah on the sideline early in the season.

The other option is a bit of a stretch, but maybe possible. The Lions have Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator Dom Capers on staff as we speak. Capers has done the job before and he’s done it quite well. Heck, the guy has been coaching defense in the NFL since the mid-1980s. Still, it would feel more right if the Lions went with a younger guy like Pleasant.

Hire an outside candidate

This is a little bit harder. Unlike things on the offensive side of the ball, the Lions don’t have many connections to some of the more popular candidates out there—unless Teryl Austin is going to make a comeback.

There are some options to think about, though. Saints defensive backs coach Kris Richard helped build the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom and was a popular defensive coordinator candidate for the past couple years. Even though he’s in New Orleans, he doesn’t really have a Dan Campbell connection, since Richard joined the Saints after Campbell left. That said, if he’s good enough for Sean Payton, you better believe Campbell will have some interest.

If you’re looking for someone who has that direct Campbell connection, Saints linebacker coach Michael Hodges could be that guy. He’s slowly worked his way up from defensive assistant in 2017 to his current position with the team.

Detroit’s defense is heavily influenced by the Los Angeles Rams’ scheme, though. So if the Lions are looking to keep that consistent, look to Rams former safeties coach and current pass game coordinator Ejiro Evero or Rams defensive line coach/run game coordinator Eric Henderson. Neither of those two have defensive coordinator experience, but Detroit seems interested in developing their coaching staff as much as they do their players.

Outside of the connections, there are a lot of options out there that would that have the Lions diving back into the dating world. They’ll have to get their EHarmony page set up and see if they can find a match with some of the popular candidates out there. Ooh I wish they hosted a Bachelor-like show instead.

Can guys like 49ers senior defensive assistant James Bettcher get a rose? What about Al Holcomb, Panthers run game coordinator? Or Jay Rodgers, current Chargers outside linebacker coach? Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has been a rising star in the college ranks. Could he finally be swooned to the NFL by the Lions?

The most likely situation is the first one we laid out. Making Aubrey Pleasant their new DC would be a perfect move for them to make in this situation. Pleasant knows the defense that Glenn was running already, and it’s the Lions best chance for continuity.

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