The Detroit Lions have fired defensive backs coach and pass game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant, according to a report from Dave Birkett.
The Lions secondary has been one of the worst units in football this season. Detroit currently ranks last in yards per attempt (8.4), passer rating (108.5), and completion percentage (69.3%).
The tipping point appears to have been Sunday’s contest against the Miami Dolphins. Not only did Tua Tagovailoa complete 80 percent of his passes for 384 yards, but according to Campbell after the game, the secondary didn’t execute the game plan, which was to be more physical with Miami’s talented receiving corps.
“We didn’t hit them at the line. That was part of the game plan,” Campbell said. “We didn’t disrupt. We did not disrupt, and when you let them do that and get into your defense, we didn’t want to turn it into a track meet. And it was a track meet.”
“We did not do well in this game plan that was designed for these guys.”
Pleasant was hired last year as part of the new coaching regime. Previously, he had spent four seasons with the Los Angels Rams as the team’s cornerbacks coach. In Detroit, he could certainly be credited with helping Jeff Okudah weather the storm of his injury and return at a good level of play. However, the play of Amani Oruwariye and AJ Parker has regressed this season.
That said, Pleasant was also dealt a tough hand by injuries and a lack of resources. In addition to Okudah’s Achilles injury, Ifeatu Melifonwu has been habitually injured, Tracy Walker is out of the season with an Achilles tear of his own, Jerry Jacobs tore his ACL last year, Saivion Smith suffered a serious neck injury—all while general manager Brad Holmes mostly ignored the defensive backfield during free agency and the draft.
It’s a sudden fall for Pleasant, who had gotten a lot of praise from players for his ability to connect and communicate with him. He even scored interviews for the Saints and Vikings defensive coordinator jobs back in February.
At this point, it’s unclear who will be taking over for Pleasant, but Lions safeties coach Brian Duker seems like a likely candidate.
UPDATE: Campbell confirmed that Duker will take over the defensive backs room, with help from defensive quality control coach Addison Lynch.