Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn had an integral part in hiring defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant early last year. So, naturally, just a few days after coach Dan Campbell made the “tough” decision of letting Pleasant go on Monday, Glenn was still emotional about the move.
“It’s been a tough week for me personally, this defensive staff, this organization, so this team in general,” Glenn said. “Not only because of the way we played, but also because we lost a damn-good coach, a good friend of mine who I brought on to do a job, and that’s unfortunate.”
Pleasant was fired after the Lions failed to follow the proposed game plan against the Miami Dolphins. Campbell and Glenn said in the week leading up to the game that they wanted to play physical at the line and disrupt receivers’ routes. For most of the game, Dolphins receivers were given unabated lanes into the teeth of their defense. The result: Tua Tagovailoa completed 81 percent of his passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns.
Campbell said the decision was based more on the collective seven weeks of performance from the Lions secondary, which ranks dead last in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating.
Glenn said the move was Campbell’s decision—though he talked to Glenn about it beforehand—and said it’s now his job as defensive coordinator to support the decision and do what he can to help out.
“Dan made the decision, and I’m going to support that decision,” Glenn said. “That’s my job. He’s the boss, and whatever decision that he makes, it’s our responsibility to support and continue to move on. That’s what we’ll do as a staff. That’s what I’ll do as a coordinator.”
And while Glenn has said that he wants to let his coaches coach and not be a “micromanager,” he does plans to be more involved in the defensive back room moving forward, along with safeties coach Brian Duker and defensive assistant Addison Lynch. Glenn, a former All-Pro defensive back himself, plans to share responsibilities—from coaching to splitting some of Pleasant’s duties as pass game coordinator—with the group.
“I do think it’s my responsibility to spend more time in that room being able to help,” Glenn said.
No. 1 on the agenda is improving communication between the players. Earlier in the week, Campbell said the team needed to cut its mental errors in half, and Glenn knows with a room that is full of very young players and is missing its main communicator in Tracy Walker—who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury a month ago—it’s on him to help create pathways to successfully communicate.
“Man, we’re so young out there that we just have to continue to keep drilling, keep hammering in,” Glenn said. “We cannot do things that make us lose games.”
Another change the Lions plan on making in the secondary—as Campbell alluded to after the Dolphins game—is the increased usage of second-year cornerback Jerry Jacobs. Jacobs returned from a torn ACL two weeks ago but has been almost exclusively a special teamer. Glenn said he’s part of the defensive game plan this week.
“He’s going to get a chance to play. He’ll get some snaps this week,” Glenn said.
This week, the Lions defense will have a chance to bounce back against a Green Bay Packers offense that has struggled to push the ball downfield. Aaron Rodgers is averaging the lowest completed air yards in his career, and the Packers rank 26th in scoring. Still, Glenn knows better than to underestimate the four-time league MVP.
“As long as you have that guy, you have a chance.”