Allen Park — Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has been around the NFL long enough that he’s seen just about everything. Heck, he was playing for the New York Jets when Bill Belichick infamously resigned a day after being named the franchise’s head coach.
But that doesn’t mean changes, particularly departures, ever get easier. This week, Glenn is navigating abrupt change, in the middle of the season nonetheless, after one of his assistants, defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, was fired by the team.
“It’s been a tough week,” Glenn said. “For me personally, the defensive staff, this organization, for this team in general. Not only because of the way that we played, but also we lost a damn good coach. A good friend of mine who I brought on to do a job and that’s unfortunate.”
When the Lions hired Pleasant to work with Glenn, the coordinator talked about how the two came from the same tribe. Although they hadn’t worked together, they were experienced in and believed the same types of coverage principles, presumably making for a smooth marriage.
But things don’t always work out as envisioned. Taking over one of the roster’s youngest position groups, Pleasant had some success with individual development, but the Lions consistently struggled to stop the pass. Through seven games, Detroit is allowing opponents to post a passer rating of 108.4, not only the worst in the league this year, but on track one of the 10 worst seasons in NFL history.
With the dismissal, Lions coach Dan Campbell cited communication issues and missed assignments. But given Glenn was Pleasant’s boss, with a shared philosophical background, and experience playing and coaching defensive backs, it’s no surprise he’s not hiding from his share in the blame for the defense’s shortcomings.
“As the coordinator, I always point a finger at myself, because at the end of the day, how the defense performs that’s on me,” Glenn said. “I give a vision of what I want defensively. I let my coaches coach. I think that’s the best way as coordinator to not be, to not micro-manage your coaches. That’s why you hired them, because if I was going to coach all the players, then I don’t need them. You know what I’m saying? So, I think the best thing for me to do is give the vision and, man, let the coaches coach.
“I think it’s important that you let coaches be able to do some of their own things because it makes them invested in what you’re doing.”
Glenn doesn’t want to drastically swing the other way with that approach, because it’s not what he believes, but he’s already taking a more hands-on approach this week with the secondary as safeties coach Brian Duker and quality-control coach Addison Lynch take on bigger roles replacing Pleasant.
“I do have to help them,” Glenn said. “I mean, Duker’s a really good coach. I’ve been with Duker since Cleveland (2015) and I know he’s going to do a good job. Same with Addy (Lynch). But I do think it’s my responsibility to spend more time in that room and be able to help.”
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