There isn’t a single player in the group who isn’t struggling, and like he did most of 2020, cornerback Jeff Okudah is taking the brunt of the blame, although everyone has seeming played a role in what has taken place so far.
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Early on in the game against the 49ers, the Lions had just allowed a touchdown drive. On the sidelines, Fox Sports cameras captured a heated coaching moment between defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant and Okudah. Multiple times, Pleasant looked to mouth the words “do your job” to Okudah during the exchange.
It isn’t a surprise to see Okudah under fire given the way he struggled in 2020 throughout his rookie year. There have been a number of questions about Okudah as a player, so seeing how he responds to this will be important as he moves forward in his career.
Others hammered Okudah after his play on Twitter.
Suffice it to say this isn’t the kind of start the lions or Okudah wanted for 2021, but it is a teachable moment, indeed.
Aubrey Pleasant’s History
After growing up in Flint, 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 the 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 Sean McVay’s staff from 2017 until his departure after the 2020 season as cornerbacks coach.
Pleasant is seen as a fast-riser in the coaching industry, as many have said that he could be a potential coordinator in the making one day. His attention to detail could be a big reason why this is the case, and the hope for the Lions has to be that Pleasant can reach this young backfield.
Okudah’s Rookie Stats & Highlights
The rookie season wasn’t phenomenal statistically for Okudah, who only put up 47 tackles, 2 passes defended and one interception in 2020. The cornerback fought injury most of his rookie season and was never completely right, and also may have never felt comfortable with the coaching he was being given by Matt Patricia and company. As a result, Okudah struggled as a rookie and was often picked on by the opposition leading to some rough days on the field as he experienced early in the season in Green Bay. The stats didn’t show a player primed to make a huge impact, but it’s more than possible that Okudah can turn this around quickly this season and have a much better showing. If he could be around 80 tackles and have closer to 5 interceptions in 2021, that would have to be seen as some huge strides forward and a major positive.
Here’s a look at some of his work last season:
Okudah has some talent to rely on so the hope is that he can continue to show what made him a top pick and develop quicker this coming year. So far, that’s off to a bumpy start.