Detroit Lions: Can Aaron Glenn retool the league’s worst defense?

Aaron Glenn, Detroit Lions (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Aaron Glenn, Detroit Lions (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

It has been an engaging past few weeks for the Detroit Lions‘ faithful as owner Sheila Ford Hamp embarked on her search for both a new general manager and head coach to help fulfill her promises of bringing a winning football franchise back to Motown City.

Earlier this week, the Lions’ front office announced that they would be inking former New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach and Tight Ends Coach, Dan Campbell, to a six-year deal to be the franchise’s latest head coach.

Following the announcement, fans were left to ponder whether the new incoming head coach, alongside recently appointed general manager Brad Holmes, would be in favor of or opposed to retaining the services of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Cory Undlin.

It didn’t take too long for those questions to be answered. Days after the hiring of Campbell was announced, the Jacksonville Jaguars declared that recently appointed head coach Urban Meyer would be adding Bevell to his staff to lead his offense.

From there, the domino effect continued to unravel as Undlin was ousted from his position as organizing the team’s defense. In turn, the organization announced that it was gearing towards securing the services of Saints defensive backs coach, Aaron Glenn, to be the team’s latest defensive coordinator.

Introducing the Detroit Lions’ newest defensive coordinator to the Motor City

For those unfamiliar with Glenn, let’s take an in-depth look at what the former NFL player of 15 seasons will bring to the table in trying to overturn one of the league’s worst defenses.

There were a lot of unknown variables surrounding those trying to decide whether or not Glenn was the right man for the position. What is known to most speculators is the fact that Glenn has a large chunk of his work already cut out for him.

Glenn is inheriting a defense that finished the previous season performing the worst in the NFL in passing yards allowed (419.8) and also last in the league in points per game allowed (32.4).

Glenn facilitated the start of his front office career following his tenure as a player by onboarding as a personnel scout for the NFL’s New York Jets in 2012. His promotion to coaching secondary defenses in the league didn’t commence until 2014 when he was hired to be the assistant defensive backs coach for the Cleveland Browns.

Continuing his rise in the coaching ranks, Saints’ head coach Sean Payton decided to approach Glenn in 2016 to come aboard as the teams’ defensive backs coach and help develop their young DBs corps.

As a former three-time Pro Bowl cornerback in the NFL, Glenn spent the majority of his years hawking defenses from afar. So it’s no surprise to see the effects of his tutelage on rising secondary defenders in the league.

Under the coaching of Glenn last season, the Saints finished fifth in the NFL in total pass yards allowed (3,472) and tied for first in the league in Interceptions at 18. Reaping the foremost benefits of Glenn’s mentorship as DBs coach for the Saints was corner Marshon Lattimore, who has predominantly broken out as a star in the league and mustered up three Pro Bowl nods in his first four seasons in the NFL.

Relatively unmentioned amongst the upper echelon of available candidates for the leagues’ vacant coordinator positions due to his inexperience at such a position, the hiring of Glenn as DC for the Lions was drawn as a surprise to the majority.

However, amongst those who have brushed shoulders with the former Aggie star, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone with a negative opinion of the charismatic leader. Former Cleveland Browns CEO and Philadelphia Eagles President, Joe Banner, touted the new Lions DC as a “future hc” in a recent tweet congratulating the coach of his hiring to his latest position.

Experts believe that the pairing between Campbell and Glenn was an ‘arranged marriage’ of sorts due to their time working together under Payton in New Orleans for the past five years.

Nevertheless, Glenn also has a history with Lion’s 2020 first-round pick, Jeff Okudah, dating back to his days as a coach at the Nike 7v7 The Opening tournament. Okudah was amped up when discovering the news that his former coach at the 7v7 tournament is now his professional team’s defensive coordinator.

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Despite the fact that Aaron Glenn comes with a blank slate historically at the coordinator position; the experience he has garnered from his years as a high-level player in the league, coupled with the personal professional coaching development established during his tenures in Cleveland and New Orleans, the newly-found leader comes gripped with the drive, knowledge, and instruments needed to retool the league’s worst defense into a primary contender for years to come.

All that’s left to see is whether or not positive change is coming to the Detroit Lions, or if will history repeat itself.