Lions coach chosen as candidate to ‘Make the Leap’ in 2021

Detroit Lions Defensive Back Coordinator Aubrey Pleasant (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions Defensive Back Coordinator Aubrey Pleasant (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

One of the most important areas the Detroit Lions had to get right following the hiring of a new regime in the Motor City this offseason was finding the right coaches to oversee their secondary. After all, this is a group that ranked 30th in passing defense in 2020, allowing an average of 284.9 yards per game through the air last season.

The Lions’ defense also allowed the most points scored (519) in the NFL last year. So finding coaches who could drag the Detroit defense out of the gutter was essential.

The new regime opted to address this massive need by hiring a former NFL cornerback in Aaron Glenn as defensive coordinator, and Aubrey Pleasant as the team’s new passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach.

Glenn is coming off a successful five-year run as the defensive backs coach for the New Orleans Saints. The three-time Pro Bowler was able to turn around the Saints’ secondary from a last-place unit in 2016 to rank in the top five of the league last season.

Pleasant had successfully turned an average secondary into an elite unit as the cornerbacks coach for the Los Angeles Rams over the past four years. The Rams fielded the top passing defense in the entire NFL last season, allowing just 190.7 passing yards to opposing offenses in 2020.

The Lions are hoping Pleasant’s presence is enough to lift a very young, but talented roster of defensive backs to another level of play. If he does, Pleasant may not be in the Motor City for very long.

Around The NFL Editor Gregg Rosenthal wrote the following on recently after choosing Pleasant, and not a Lions’ player, as his candidate on the team to “Make the Leap” in 2021.

"“The Flint native’s move from the Rams to the Lions was a coup for Dan Campbell, as Pleasant’s work coaching up Rams cornerbacks over the last few years was second to none. Don’t be surprised if Pleasant lands on some defensive coordinator interview lists if he can turn around the struggling group in Detroit.”"

Pleasant was the only non-player to make Rosenthal’s list which included one candidate from all 32 NFL teams. The longtime writer quipped it was only a partial indictment of the Lions’ current roster.

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The coaching of Aubrey Pleasant could be the key to cornerback Jeff Okudah reaching his potential in Motown. Detroit made the young Ohio State defender the third overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. If Pleasant can help Okudah make his own leap in his second season, it should go a long way in turning around the worst passing defense in the NFL. And then watch the job offers roll in.