Ahead of pre-season training camp, the Detroit Lions have a rare sense of optimism.
With a favorable schedule and a retooled roster, many pundits are debating whether or not the Lions are a genuine playoff contender. This is a change from years past, when Detroit was always charted at the bottom of the NFC North.
A large portion of those who prefer the Lions preseason do so because of the culture at team headquarters. Head coach Dan Campbell has instilled a confidence in his coaches and players that Allen Park hasn’t felt in a while.
Among those coaches is defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who has been courted for head coaching jobs throughout the league throughout the offseason. He came to it “The Adam Schefter Podcast” to discuss all things Lions and his career.
The coach openly said that making the playoffs would be a fabulous achievement and would be extremely meaningful to the city of Detroit.
“The only thing we’re going to do is we’re going to keep chopping wood,” Glenn said. “Whatever was said, that’s all good. We know that when we get (to the playoffs) it’s going to be a hell of a story.
Expectations for 2022
Glenn and the coaching staff have had extensive discussions over the offseason to try and implement changes on the defensive end. The unit fought in 2021, ranking bottom of the league in several categories.
However, the 50-year-old coordinator hopes that will change in his second season. He mentioned building the ability to disrupt and attack from the defensive end as areas he wants his team to improve on.
“The rules dictate it now, you have this five-yard area where you can disrupt,” Glenn said. “You have to use that. A lot of teams in this league don’t use that. It’s the way the rules are and the way the offenses are getting into these formations now that won’t allow you to get there. You still need to use the ability to disrupt receivers who are leaving the line of scrimmage.”
Glenn added that defense plans to become more physical through 2022, with an emphasis on offense.
“We want you to fear us,” Glenn said. “We’re not saying we’re going to go out there and try to hurt anyone, but we want to bring back old-school football. We want to beat you, we want to play with violence and we want to make sure we attack the football and play fast.
“Our advantage is we make sure we blow their minds and they know it. They know that every time the ball is run or thrown, we’re trying to kill you.”
Coaching philosophy inspired by the time as a player
Scroll to Next
Featured Lions Articles
Glenn applied for head coaching positions with the Denver Broncos and the New Orleans Saints during the offseason. Although both teams decided to pass, the interest showed how highly he is held in league circles.
Schefter mentioned that during the search for the team’s general manager, he had a conversation with a source in the Broncos’ front office. This source claimed that the team wanted to give Glenn a closer look for his position as head coach and were ultimately impressed.
“I would say that first and foremost, I think my personality as a person and as a coach really stands out,” noted Glenn. “A lot of that comes from my background as a player. I think the one thing we talk about a lot here in Detroit is having courage. That’s me as a person. That’s me as a coach. That was me as a player. I was never the greatest, I was never the strongest, but I knew I had to do better than you, my heart had to be a lot bigger than yours.
“For me it’s all about that. I take the right to coach the players and I understand that. I want the players to see how hard I work. I want players to understand, man, this game is way bigger than 4.4 guys, 4.3 guys. This game is about how many games can I beat you?”
The Lions defense coordinator mentioned that his philosophy is related to “playing with violence.” He wants his players to play hard and with full commitment, which can lead to the best results regardless of size and build.
The former security guard admitted his courage and heart come from being undersized and playing at the highest level. He hopes to inspire his players by leading by example.
“I think the players understand that, they see that,” Glenn said. “Nothing fake about the way I work. I think that’s the only thing players know, they know a fake when they see one. I know they can all tell you, ‘Coach Glenn is not a fake, he’s going to give you everything he’s got. That’s just who he is.’”
Early impressions of Hutchinson and Okudah
Two defensive players who come into camp with many eyes are Aidan Hutchinson and Jeff Okudah.
Both top picks in their respective drafts, each going into the season with different expectations. Hutchinson is expected to go into his rookie year as an immediate contributor while Okudah tries to reclaim the magic that made him the top cornerback pick of 2020.
Glenn spoke to Schefter about both and said he was impressed with what he saw.
“We knew he was going to be a good player coming from Michigan, everyone saw that,” Glenn said. “But man, he’s just a much better athlete than we probably all gave him credit for. His ability to move around the defensive line was pretty outstanding. We played it inside, we played it outside. We want to use that.”
Okudah is recovering from an Achilles injury that ended his 2021 season in the opening game. As he enters his third season, some wonder if he can reach the level that would justify his third overall pick.
Glenn, meanwhile, believes there is plenty of talent to uncover and show in his third-year cornerback.
“This guy had a really, really good training camp (2021),” said the defensive coordinator. “Well, we were with him this year. Obviously we knew about him when he came out of the draft, we thought he was a pretty good player. We need to get him off his injury disease so he can play for us in the end so we can see exactly what we have. We think we know what we have, but we need to be able to see it. I give credit to this player for working his ass off during the off-season trying to get exactly where he needs to be so he can end up playing for us.