Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn no longer a slam-dunk 2023 head coaching candidate

Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn takes the field for practice during the first day of training camp July 27, 2022 in Allen Park.
Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn takes the field for practice during the first day of training camp July 27, 2022 in Allen Park. /

The Detroit Lions’ defense has been awful, and with his unit’s bad performance down goes the coaching stock of Aaron Glenn.

The Detroit Lions did not have a good defense last season. But defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn interviewed for two head coaching jobs anyway (Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints), and he’s seen far and wide as a future head coach. He certainly seems to have a certain “it” factor befitting that future.

The Lions entered Week 4 as the league’s worst-scoring defense, and they weren’t much better in yardage allowed. The Seattle Seahawks entered Sunday’s game having scored 47 offensive points in three games, with less than 255 total yards in two of the three. On Sunday, they scored 41 offensive points and had 555 total yards on the Lions’ defense.

After the game, Lions head coach Dan Campbell was asked about what can be done to fix an awful defense.

Critical evaluation mode is clearly necessary for the Lions’ defense, much as it was for the offense during the bye week last year. Campbell took over play calling and then-tight ends coach Ben Johnson became passing game coordinator, as Anthony Lynn had his role reduced in his final weeks as offensive coordinator.

Campbell is not going to fire Glenn on Monday morning, or at least it doesn’t seem that way. And it seems unlikely he’ll have defensive play-calling duties taken away, mostly because who would take it over?

But one thing is undeniable.

Aaron Glenn is no longer a slam-dunk 2023 head coaching candidate

Glenn was one of the Lions assistants on a lengthy list of 2022 head coaching candidates recently formed by Conor Orr of In a vacuum, he’d be the most likely of them to land a head job in the next hiring cycle.

Now, his stock has to be taking enough of a hit to make it difficult for him to get serious consideration for a head coaching job when this season is over.

Yes, the Lions’ defensive personnel is not where it needs to be and rebuilding it from where Matt Patricia left it was always going to take time. Depth is a particular issue, especially in the linebacking corps and secondary. Any notable injuries, let alone to top-end players like safety Tracy Walker (torn Achilles in Week 3), thin the ranks even more.

Two offseasons, two drafts and now more than 20 games, and the Lions’ defense does not really look any better than it was two-plus years ago. The unit has had one really good half all season, the first half of Week 2 against Washington. Portions of Week 3 against Minnesota were good too.

Glenn is a likeable figure and easy to root for, but better results have to come at some point. Injuries are not an excuse, as every team has them and the best make due.

Glenn may, scratch that–probably will, get head coaching interviews again come January. But his imminent departure from the Lions’ coaching staff for a promotion is definitely in limbo, if not already out the door for 2023.

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