Predicting the Detroit Lions defensive scheme under Aaron Glenn
By Jon Poole
While the scheme new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn plans on bringing to the Detroit Lions in an attempt to restore the league-worst defense is important … it’s just as important that he is the right man to deliver the message. Unlike the two previous defensive coordinators, which were more like defensive assistants to the head coach, Glenn is the go-to man when it comes to defense in Detroit.
While I’m not trying to paint a picture of the rookie coordinator alone in a room with an unreadable chalkboard and no help. He is a first-time coordinator and his fellow first-time head coach is a former tight end and tight end coach.
Not every coordinator position is created equally, and rookie Glenn just took on maybe the biggest challenge in the NFL. But before we just jump right into predicting the saviors’ plans, let’s not be rude and see how he got there with a little introduction.
As humans we are all products of their environments and coaches are no different. While you still hope your new coach is creative enough to bring in his own ideas, their background is normally the biggest indicator of where they stand philosophically.
As a Player
Glenn got his start in the NFL as a cornerback and12th-overall pick to the Jets in 1994. Four years into his eight-year span with the Jets, they hired Bill Parcels as head coach in 1997 with guess who at defensive coordinator … Bill Belichick. This Belichick-Parcels New York rendezvous was essentially the conception of the scheme Matt Patricia brought to Detroit in 2018.
After going 1-15 in Glenn’s third year in the NFL, the Jets hired Parcells in 1997 and got them to 9-7 his first season. Their defense jumped from 29th to 7th, Glenn made his first pro-bowl, all in one offseason. You would think the quick turnaround would have a positive effect on how Glenn viewed the Parcells/Belichick/Patricia – 3-4/two-gapping/reactive scheme.
Glenn was with the Jets until 2002 where he spent the last couple of years of his prime in Houston. Playing for then head coach Dom Capers and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Another 3-4 based system.
To end his career Glenn bounced around from Dallas for two years again with Parcells with Todd Bowles, then Mike Zimmer as coordinators. Off to Jacksonville for one year stint with Jack Del Rio in 2007, before ending his playing career the following year in New Orleans with Sean Payton in 2008.