Lions Offseason Receives Major Early Boost With Key Coaching Returns

Aaron Glenn

Getty Aaron Glenn looks on during Lions vs. Bengals in 2021.

The Detroit Lions faced down some dramatic potential staff changes this offseason, but have managed to emerge in a very positive way now that everything has shaken out.

Last year at this time, it was the Lions poaching other staffs for key coaches. After a frustrating 3-13-1 season, there were signs of tangible growth in multiple ways, specifically on the defense with regard to the team’s defensive backs. To that end, it was a major concern to see both men interview for multiple jobs with the thought that either could leave.

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There’s good news, though. It appears as if the Lions have dodged the final interview bullet with a key staff member on the defensive side of things. Aubrey Pleasant was being considered to become the New Orleans’ defensive coordinator after also missing out on the same gig in Minnesota. The team will not be hiring outside the home according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who revealed they will be staying in-house with the hire with Ryan Nielsen and Kris Richard.

“Saints defensive assistants Ryan Nielsen and Kris Richard are in line for promotions, per sources — possibly as co-defensive coordinators, though nothing is set. HC Dennis Allen still working on finalizing staff. External DC candidates no longer in running are being notified,” Fowler tweeted.

Of course it was flattering for the Lions to see both Glenn and Pleasant considered for multiple different jobs this offseason, and the duo will likely be heading to bigger responsibilities in the future. With that being said, it’s alright for the Lions to be greedy and want more time with both. In their first season, the team witnessed Glenn have a solid year as a coordinator. Pleasant also meant a great deal for the Lions in his first year, bringing along the likes of Jerry Jacobs, AJ Parker, Amani Oruwariye at cornerback, all of whom enjoyed positive seasons on the field.

Coaches being retained typically doesn’t make for headline news in the cycle, but the Lions should be grateful to have this pair together for another season.


Glenn Coming off Solid Season as Defensive Coordinator

Though Pleasant was also drawing major interest on the coaching market, Glenn was the first big shoe to drop. He interviewed for the Denver head coaching job, and after being passed up there, was looked at closely by New Orleans after the abrupt retirement of Sean Payton. Glenn was passed over for that job in favor of Dennis Allen, which was welcome news for the Lions when it was revealed a few weeks ago.

For the Lions, that development was a major win considering Glenn figures to be a rising star at defensive coordinator. This past season, the Lions had up and down statistics as the 29th overall defense in the league, but Glenn helped develop solid game plans against teams like Baltimore, Los Angeles and Arizona that kept great teams and solid quarterbacks in check.

As the season wore on and the team gained in confidence, Glenn’s defense looked to improve in a major way, which lent itself to hope in Detroit for the 2022 season. Detroit is very happy to keep Glenn for continuity’s sake so that their defense can keep developing in the right direction. Glenn was a big part of that early turnaround in 2021.


Pleasant’s Career Biography

After growing up in Flint, Michigan, Pleasant attended Wisconsin where he was a three-year letter winner from 2005-2008. He attended Michigan as a graduate assistant in 2011, and from there was he team’s assistant defensive backs coach in 2012. In 2013, he coached with the Cleveland Browns as a coaching intern, then advancing to the Washington Football Team for the same role. From 2014-2016, he was a defensive quality control coach in Washington. He joined McVay’s staff from 2017 until his departure following the 2020 season as cornerbacks coach.

Pleasant is seen as a fast-riser in the coaching industry by many, as many have said that he could be a potential coordinator in the making one day. DeAngelo Hall even lauded Pleasant unprompted as one of the best coaches he has ever worked with, which is a major feather in his cap.

The Lions will be happy to keep both Glenn and Pleasant in the mix, and those guys sticking around to help everyone develop could be as important to the team as any player they could acquire.

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