In the aftermath of yet another underwhelming defensive performance, the Lions have made a change on the sidelines. Detroit has fired secondary coach and defensive pass game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant, as detailed by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Head coach Dan Campbell said safeties coach Brian Duker will take over in his place.
The move comes one day after Detroit lost 31-27 to the Dolphins, adding further to their stark contrast of effectiveness on offense (ranking top-five in the league in yards, and top-ten in scoring) and ineffectiveness on the other side of the ball (last in both total and scoring defense).
Pleasant joined the Lions just last winter, having previously worked as the cornerbacks coach of the Rams for four years. He had also spent time with Washington and Cleveland prior to that. Expectations were high for him, given his track record from Los Angeles, but the Lions’ secondary has struggled mightily due to injuries and inconsistent play throughout the season. The unit has surrendered an average of 266 yards per game through the air, and notched just two interceptions.
One bright spot has been Jeff Okudah‘s return from a torn Achilles. The No. 3 pick in 2020 has been healthy for all seven games this season, occupying a full-time starting role along the way. Pleasant was credited for his role in bringing Okudah back to the form he was drafted to show, but with the team sitting at 1-6, some form of change was considered inevitable.
“I think Aubrey’s a hell of a coach,” Campbell said when speaking to the media about the move (Twitter link via Birkett). “It was a tough decision, but we’re in a production-based business and after seven weeks I felt like this change needed to be made.”
Despite a relative lack of experience, Pleasant has been a name on the DC radar for years now. He interviewed with the Bengals for that position before his move to the Rams. After his performance last year in Detroit, he also drew interest from the Vikings and Saints this winter. As a result, he is unlikely to be out of work for long, while the Lions will look for improvement on the backend of their defense.