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Mailbag: How concerning is Lions’ constant shuffling of defensive coaching staff?

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NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions
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The Detroit Lions continue to overhaul their defensive coaching staff year after year. At what point does that become concerning?

The Detroit Lions announced coaching changes for the 2024 season, and it featured significant changes on the defensive side of the ball. Next year, the Lions will have a new defensive line coach, a new secondary coach, a new cornerbacks coach (if not left vacant), and a new defensive assistant.

While coaching turnover is not uncommon even for successful teams, the Lions have undergone a ton of overhaul on the defensive side ever since coach Dan Campbell landed in Detroit three years ago. Todd Wash, John Scott Jr., Mark DeLeone, Aubrey Pleasant, Brian Duker, and Dre Bly have all come and gone in a manner of three seasons.

Compare that to the offensive side of the ball, where Detroit has only replaced Anthony Lynn, Duce Staley, and their tight end coaches (who only needed to be replaced because they were promoted).

Obviously, the Lions’ defense has been bad while the Lions’ offense has been good. And you want an organization that not only recognizes that but takes action. However, the Lions are now entering Year 4 of the regime, and they haven’t found a defensive coaching staff that has got the job done. Is it fair to be concerned about that?

That’s one of our main topics on this week’s Midweek Mailbag podcast. Here’s part of that conversation.

“Listen, if something’s not working, you should change it, but for all the credit that we give Dan Campbell for finding good coaches, I don’t know if he’s done a great job there on defense,” I note.

“It seems like a large amount, but at the same time, they’re bringing in a couple more proven coaches as opposed to younger guys they were hoping to develop,” Erik Schlitt said. “So it seems their strategy has shifted a little bit.”

And at some point, there has to be at least some culpability when it comes to defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who has retained his job. Obviously, the Lions made defensive strides in 2023—developing one of the best run defenses in the league. They’ve also had some issues with overall talent on this side of the ball. But it’s fair to question why the position coaches are the ones taking the fall for some of the defensive issues.

“I don’t want to add (another) voice to this concern, necessarily, but at some point maybe there’s a little compatibility that falls on Aaron Glenn,” I said. “If you’re continually rotating the pieces below him and nothing seems to be working, some of that has to go up the chain a little. And I’m not saying Aaron Glenn needs to be fired, let’s be clear here. But something big has to change here, too.”

That entire conversation kicks off our podcast right around the 2:10 mark.

Other topics this week:

  • (12:30) Are Cameron Sutton concerns being overblown?
  • (16:15) Are the Lions going to spend significant capital on a kicker?
  • (19:00) Why offensive tackle is a legit need for the Lions
  • (27:50) Will the Lions trade up from pick 29?
  • (32:00) How does the 2024 NFL Draft look like in terms of overall depth and talent?
  • (37:30) How can the Lions create cap space with a Jared Goff extension?
  • (44:20) Lions OL spending is currently middle-of-the-pack: shouldn’t they spend money on Jonah Jackson?
  • (49:00) Could the Lions move Taylor Decker to guard and draft an offensive tackle?

Listen to the entire show below:

Subscribe to the PODcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcasts. Follow Pride Of Detroit on Twitch to get notified when we record the PODcast live and chat with us. Video replays are available on Twitch and YouTube.

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