Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn will always hold the New York Jets in a special part of his heart. The Jets traded up in the first round to select him with the 12th pick in the 1994 NFL Draft. And when Glenn’s playing career came to an end, it was the Jets who allowed him to get his foot in the door as a scout—serving as a pro-personnel assistant in 2012.
“Very fond of that organization,” Glenn said on Thursday. “I think you guys have heard me say that before because they gave me my start in a number of different ways as a player and as a coach, really as a scout.”
But that fondness only makes Glenn more hungry for a win. With this week’s looming matchup between the 6-7 Lions and 7-6 Jets, Glenn is hoping to show his former team just how far Detroit has come.
“They’re really good friends of mine, so any time I have a chance to go against this team, I want to beat the hell out of them,” Glenn said. “Even though I have a lot of love for that organization, I really do, but I do. I want to beat the hell out of them.”
The Lions are on a hot streak, and while the offense is playing at a high level, it’s truly been Glenn’s ability to turn around the defense that has raised Detroit’s level of play. After allowing 32 points per game over the first seven games, the Lions defense has dropped that figure all the way down to 20.3 points per game over the last six contests. It’s no coincidence that Detroit is 5-1 over that span.
“We have guys with a lot of pride on this defense, so the players’ only meeting, that was just something that the players did,” Glenn said. “But when you look up and you see that you’re not helping the team, you’ve got to do something about it. And me as a coach, the players, they drew a line saying, they said enough was enough, and you really saw that during that New England game (in Week 5) and after that.”
The Jets offense hasn’t been a very good unit all season. They average just 20.3 points per game, and their team passer rating of 78.2 ranks 28th in the NFL. Despite that, Glenn knows that they have some weapons. First and foremost, rookie receiver Garrett Wilson.
“Wilson’s the real deal,” Glenn said. “He’s a really good player. The Jets did a good job of identifying that player, and I think on a number of levels, I would say that he’s a good player because he breaks tackles like one of the better receivers I’ve seen this year as far as breaking tackles. He’s tough, he’s taking some hits now, and he’ll get back up. And he will reach out and go after the ball, so 50/50 balls, man, you have to be on your p’s and q’s to be able to defend that player because he’s a hard cover. “
Wilson is currently second among all rookie receivers with 868 yards. In five of his last six games, he has at least five receptions.
It’s unclear who will be throwing the ball to Wilson, as Jets starting quarterback Mike White suffered a rib injury on Sunday. However, he’s been limited in practice all week and seems to be trending towards playing. Glenn knows White is capable of getting the ball out quick, so it’ll be on Detroit to be at their best to prevent yards after the catch.
“The one thing that White does a really good job of is getting the ball out and getting them in the hands of his skill players, allowing those guys to break tackles and make plays,” Glenn said. “And you see that’s a part of his offense, you see it with San Francisco, you see it with the Jets. The one thing we’ve got to do a really, really good job of is tackling.”