Detroit Lions make DB coach Aubrey Pleasant scapegoat for bad defense

Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Amid a bad season defensively and after a rough outing on Sunday, Detroit Lions defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant has been made the scapegoat.

The NFL’s worst defense had a rough outing against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. On Monday, as first reported by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Lions fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant.

Pleasant became Detroit’s defensive backs coach when Dan Campbell became head coach in 2021. He had to work with a group of defensive backs that was injury-thinned, short on talent and often both.

On Sunday, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns as he completed 80 percent of his passes (29-for-36). After the game, Campbell said the game plan (professed by defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn during his press conference last Thursday) to be physical with wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle was not executed.

"We didn’t hit them at the line. That was part of the game plan,” Campbell said. “We didn’t disrupt. We did not disrupt, and when you let them do that and get into your defense, we didn’t want to turn it into a track meet. And it was a track meet.”"

Aubrey Pleasant is easy scapegoat for a bad Lions’ defense

The Lions are worst in the league in yards per attempt allowed (8.4), passer rating against (108.5) and completion percentage (69.3 percent) allowed this season. Some of that can be put on Glenn’s blitz-happy defensive play-calling. That  has dropped a bit lately (28.8 percent blitz rate for the season; eighth-highest in the league), but failure to get to the quarterback with extra people sent has left a vulnerable secondary even more vulnerable.

Failure to execute the game plan to be physical with Hill and Waddle is a bad look for someone–Glenn and also Pleasant as the direct coach to the defensive backs. But if players like AJ Parker and Amani Oruwariye can’t get it done, as in are not able to physically do it (as was the case multiple times), that’s not totally on any coach. Some credit to Miami’s offensive design can be given too, to make it harder for the Lions’ corners to get jams in on Hill and Waddle.

Calls for Glenn to be fired have become too easy, and before Sunday the Lions’ defense had a couple solid games in a row. So Pleasant was let go on Monday, if only because he’s an easier scapegoat for the failures in scheme and talent on the defensive side of the ball.

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