Perhaps more than the Detroit Lions game itself, much of the attention in the aftermath of Week 1 has turned to the now-viral moment on the sidelines between defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant and cornerback Jeff Okudah.
Many saw the moment as a sign of dysfunction with the team, but the opposite was true of the Lions and their veteran cornerback Amani Oruwariye. Oruwariye was asked about the situation and provided a good defense of Pleasant in addition to a good explanation about the situation as a whole behind closed doors.
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Speaking with the media after practice on Wednesday, September 15 in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, Oruwariye was asked about the situation and provided a good look behind the scenes into what makes his coach special.
“I mean, I’m going to make it real clear. Everyone has particular relationships with coach Pleasant. He came here and really challenged everyone because he sees the potential in everyone. He really wants to light that flair under every single guy,” Oruwariye told the media. “He has a different relationship, different ways of going about that with everyone. At the end of the day, it’s two guys just wanting to be great. We have a great relationship with coach Pleasant. Of course, social media can make things be portrayed in a different way, but that’s really what it is. Everyone has a great relationship, everyone wants to win and really that’s what it comes down to.”
The explosive exchange made many on the outside wonder about Pleasant and how the Lions are being taught, but it’s very clear that the players are firmly in his corner and are here to remind that perception doesn’t always meet reality
Amani Oruwariye Credits Aubrey Pleasant’s Coaching for Development
Perhaps the best thing about Pleasant according to Oruwariye is how he finds different ways to challenge different players in order to try and inspire their best effort on the field. Specifically, in his own experience, Oruwariye said Pleasant has been a bonus for his own development as a player in the short time they have been together.
“He’s challenged me in ways I haven’t had in the past with film study, with my technique, me being longer maybe not as shifty as some of the smaller guys but challenging me to work my footwork, work my technique and I can do the same things as some of the smaller guys can do but still with my length. He’s challenged me so many different ways, mentally, and it’s been great so far. I can’t wait to keep going,” he said.
As Oruwariye explained, none of his encounters with Pleasant have been negative, and everything is positive within the proper context.
“When you know the relationship you guys have, it makes it very easy and it makes things like that not really get portrayed differently because you know,” he explained. “You know what it is, he doesn’t mean anything disrespectful or anything like that, it’s all love. As long as the player and the coach have that relationship, it’s always good.”
The Lions hope that relationship can develop some great defensive back play in the future with a group that is by all accounts one of the youngest on the entire team. With that in mind, Pleasant could be one of the most important position coaches on the roster moving forward.
Dan Campbell Shared Similar Sentiment About Sideline Outburst
Reaction to the event came fast in real time on the internet to the event, but there was not any reaction from the team or from head coach Dan Campbell until a few days after the event played out. Tuesday, September 14, the coach finally provided some thoughts on the matter.
Speaking on the Stoney and Jansen Show on 97.1 The Ticket as recapped by Chris Burke of The Athletic, Campbell was asked about the now-viral exchange. As the coach said, he might not like the optics, but he does understand how heated things get during battle on the field in the moment. As he also said, it could be a way the team gets some good work done in the future having established that connection.
Sadly, the Lions won’t get to see Okudah’s response, as the cornerback went down with an Achilles injury soon after and was lost for the season. Even such, it’s clear there is a benefit to some heated encounters on the field, as it can help bring players and coaches closer while also aiding in instruction.
That’s just what Oruwariye would likely admit in the end regarding the situation as well.