Something happened during this NFL hiring cycle that is all a bit unfamiliar to Detroit Lions’ fans. Despite only notching three wins during their 2021 season, they had multiple coaches interviewed for promotions. The most recent being defensive backs coach, and Flint native, Aubrey Pleasant.
Pleasant has received plenty of praise around the league for what he accomplished last year. The Lions' secondary was thin to begin with, full of youth and inexperience. Then the injuries came and left a thin room even more shorthanded.
Still, it was easy to see tangible growth on an almost weekly basis, both from individual players, and the unit as a whole. And while the box score didn’t always reflect the progress that was being made, many around the league have taken note, including new Minnesota Vikings’ coach Kevin O’Connell. When O’Connell was asked about Pleasant, he did not hold back, as the two are familiar with each other, having coached together on the Los Angeles Rams staff.
“I think he’s going to be a future head coach in this league,” O’Connell said during his media availability in Indianapolis on Wednesday. “I think the next step in the process for him is coordinating a defense. Aubrey is so impressive to me, he’s always been. I’ve known him for a few years even dating back to before we were together in LA. I know coach McVay has a ton of respect for him. Their relationship is really strong.”
Pleasant and O’Connell actually faced off against each other this year when the Lions traveled to place the Rams this year. O’Connell admitted that while the Rams won the game, Pleasant that Lions defensive backs put up a good fight.
“That was a tough group to play against,” O'Connell said. “They were able to really infuse a couple different systems of defenses in the NFL into that. Shoot, they were a tough group to play against, and you felt Aubrey’s presence there. It was good for me to get a chance to speak with him through this process and I have no doubt he’s going to continue to ascend, sooner rather than later in this league. I really do believe that.”
Lions’ coach Dan Campbell has been clear about his desire to build up this coaching staff the right way from the beginning. Many coaches talk a lot about professional development taking place on their staff, but from what we have observed thus far, Campbell certainly seems to walk the walk.
For now, it appears as if this Lions coaching staff is safe from having anyone being hired away for a promotion. Next year, I am not so sure that is the case. And make no mistake about it, if that happens, it means Dan Campbell’s vision for this staff and this team is well on its way.
And now onto the rest of today’s notes:
- If you are looking for some extra fluff to fill that offseason void, here is a podcast with Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes where he speaks at length about his experience at NFL Honors Night.
- MLive’s Kyle Meinke has a wild story about how wide receiver prospect Treylon Burks hunts wild hogs in his hands—and he’s also a realistic candidate for the Lions to draft this year.
- In obscure running back news, former lions RB Zach Zenner is in Indianapolis for the combine.
Ran into former Lions RB Zach Zenner here in Indy. He’s now a certified NFL agent and is also working is way to being a certified nutritionist. An agent who can work your contract and your healthy eating habits and supplement’s at the same time. Multitasking right there.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 2, 2022
- This week’s Sun God news:
- The Athletic’s Dane Brugler updated his positional rankings ahead of the Combine on-field drills, and it’s worth the time if you have a $ubscription: