Aubrey Pleasant

Packers Hire Aubrey Pleasant

One assistant coach affected by 2022’s in-season firings has quickly found a new employer. Former Lions assistant Aubrey Pleasant is joining the Packers’ staff, per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky (Twitter link). The move has since been confirmed.

Pleasant was fired by Detroit two weeks ago, as a reaction to the Lions’ ongoing defensive struggles. The team still ranks last in the league in points and yards allowed, but changes had been expected for some time leading up to the decision. The move left Pleasant – who had served as Detroit’s secondary coach and defensive pass game coordinator – free to find a new NFL home.

That came via an intra-division change of scenery. Demovsky notes that Pleasant actually began working with the Packers’ staff last week, as he reunited with head coach Matt LaFleur. The pair worked together both in Washington and with the Rams. Pleasant will be working in a consultant role on the offensive side of the ball, applying the experience garnered from his defensive background, Demovsky tweets.

Prior to this season’s poor performance, Pleasant had been a relatively hot name on the defensive coordinator radar, interviewing for the Bengals’ DC post, and also those of the Vikings and Saints this past offseason. His dismissal after only one full year with the Lions will likely delay his next opportunity for such a role, but this Packers stint could prove useful as well.

Interestingly, this hire comes just one week after LaFleur stated that no coaching changes were coming for the Packers (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman). Green Bay sat at 3-6 at the time, and is still a distant second to the Vikings in the NFC North even after yesterday’s overtime win over the Cowboys. The team’s struggles on offense in particular have drawn criticism and led to questions about a significant shakeup of some kind taking place. Instead, the Packers will move forward with the status quo at the skill positions and a new voice amongst the team’s coaching staff.

Lions Fire Aubrey Pleasant

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.

Saints Interview Michael Wilhoite For DC

The search for a new defensive coordinator continues in New Orleans. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Saints have interviewed Michael Wilhoite for the vacancy (Twitter link). 

[Related: Saints Hire Dennis Allen As Head Coach]

Wilhoite, 35, had a seven-year NFL career, including six with the 49ers. That stretch included an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII, and set up his coaching career, which began two years after his retirement. He served as a special teams assistant with the Saints in 2019; the following year, he assisted the defensive staff, so there is a degree of familiarity between him and the team. Wilhoite spent the 2021 campaign as the linebackers coach for the Chargers.

The news comes one week after longtime DC Dennis Allen was, as expected, chosen as the successor to Sean Payton. While the team has already made some additions to the offensive staff, the OC role is seen as being more of a priority, given Allen’s background. Still, the team is working to fill the position, having also met with Lions defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant last week. The former Rams assistant has been generating DC interest with his work dating back to 2017 in particular.

While Allen will surely be heavily involved in the Saints’ defense, the team is getting closer to hiring his replacement.

Saints Interview Aubrey Pleasant For DC

Aubrey Pleasant continues to generate interest on the defensive coordinator market. After interviewing for the Vikings’ DC post, Pleasant met with the Saints about their new vacancy Wednesday, Steve Wyche of NFL.com tweets.

The Lions hired Pleasant as their defensive backs coach last year, but the former Rams cornerbacks coach has been on the DC radar for a bit. The Bengals interviewed him for the job that went to Lou Anarumo in 2019. Pleasant is the first name connected to New Orleans’ new DC vacancy.

Dennis Allen rising from his DC post to replace Sean Payton left a void, and the Saints are moving quickly to fill their staff. They added Doug Marrone on Wednesday and are planning to move longtime offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael to a new position. While New Orleans’ OC job now takes on greater importance, Allen’s presence minimizes the Saints’ DC post to some degree.

The Vikings appear to be zeroing in on Ed Donatell for their DC position, though Pleasant did work with expected Minnesota HC Kevin O’Connell with the Rams last season. Pleasant was the Rams’ corners coach during Sean McVay‘s first four Los Angeles seasons; that was the young assistant’s first position coaching gig.

Vikings Interview Anthony Weaver For DC

The Vikings’ search for a new defensive coordinator continues. The latest candidate to meet with the team is Ravens defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link).

[Related: Vikings Request Interview With Lions’ Aubrey Pleasant]

Weaver represents the second name to be linked to the opening since is was reported that Mike Pettine could be the favorite for the position. Even if the latter does ultimately land the job, Minnesota is at least doing its due diligence.

Weaver, 41, has already conducted interviews twice for DC roles lately. One was with the Ravens, where he spent the beginning of his playing career, along with the 2021 season as the team’s d-line coach and running game coordinator. The other was with the Broncos. Having started coaching only two years after his playing days were over, Weaver has been on NFL sidelines since 2012. While his most frequent role has been a position coach with defensive linemen, he does have one year of experience (Houston, in 2020) as a DC.

With multiple options to consider, the Vikings should ultimately end up with either a defensive signal-caller who has garnered plenty of interest recently, or one with a plethora of experience holding the role. Either way, new head coach Kevin O’Connell is likely to have his first DC in place sooner rather than later.

Vikings Request DC Interview With Lions’ Aubrey Pleasant

While Mike Pettine is “likely” to be the Vikings next defensive coordinator, that won’t stop Kevin O’Connell from considering other candidates. Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter), the Vikings have requested an interview with Lions defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant for their defensive coordinator vacancy.

[RELATED: Mike Pettine Favorite For Vikings’ DC Job?]

Pleasant represented an interesting get for the Lions last offseason. Washington attempted to promote Pleasant ahead of the 2017 season, but he left for a lateral move with the Rams. He later interviewed for the Bengals’ DC job — one Lou Anarumo landed — in 2019 while overseeing the development of Rams corners Troy Hill and Darious Williams in Los Angeles.

Pleasant ultimately spent four years in Los Angeles, working alongside O’Connell in 2020. He took the “pass-game coordinator” promotion in Detroit for the 2021 campaign.

Meanwhile, Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that Broncos running backs coach Curtis Modkins is considering joining the Vikings staff as their new RB coach/run-game coordinator.

Lions Add Dave Fipp, Aubrey Pleasant To Staff

Dan Campbell‘s first Lions staff is taking shape. They hired the third of their 2021 coordinators this week, announcing longtime Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp will take the same position in Detroit.

The Lions are also hiring Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant as secondary coach, according to NFL.com’s Steve Wyche (on Twitter), and ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets new Lions linebackers coach Mark DeLeone will come over from the Bears.

Fipp coached the Eagles’ special teams units throughout Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson‘s tenures, beginning that run in 2013. In that time, Philly’s 12 return touchdowns ranked second in the league. Fipp has been an NFL assistant since the 2008 season. This includes time with Campbell in Miami. The two coached together with the Dolphins from 2011-12.

Pleasant represents an interesting get for the Lions. Washington attempted to promote Pleasant ahead of the 2017 season, but he left for Los Angeles. During that time, he interviewed for the Bengals’ DC job — one Lou Anarumo landed — in 2019 and oversaw the development of Rams corners Troy Hill and Darious Williams. The Jalen Ramsey sidekicks each ranked as top-30 corners, per Pro Football Focus, alongside Ramsey this past season. Pleasant will join ex-Rams staffers Brad Holmes and Ray Agnew — the Lions’ new GM and assistant GM, respectively — in trekking from southern California to Michigan.

DeLeone spent the past two seasons as Chicago’s inside linebackers coach under Chuck Pagano, overseeing the development of Roquan Smith, and was with the Chiefs from 2013-18 under then-Kansas City DC Bob Sutton. Additionally, the Lions are expected to retain tight ends coach Ben Johnson, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter).

Staff Notes: Bengals, Bears, Panthers

The Bengals requested permission to interview Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant for defensive coordinator last week, and Cincinnati has now been granted that opportunity, according to Vincent Bosnignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link). Pleasant, regarded as a rising star in the coaching ranks, worked for the Browns and Redskins before joining Los Angeles in 2017. The Bengals’ DC job is the only vacant coordinator position remaining in the NFL, and a number of candidates (Dom Capers, Jack Del Rio, Dennis Allen) have bowed out of the running to become a top aide to head coach Zac Taylor. Other coaches who have been linked to the job include Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan, former Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, Texas A&M DC Mike Elko, Florida DC Todd Grantham, and Saints defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn.

Here’s more from the 2019 coaching carousel:

  • The Bears have continued to fill out their staff under new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, announcing that defensive quality control coach Sean Desai has been promoted to safeties coach, while fellow defensive QC coach Bill Shuey was promoted to pass analyst/assistant linebackers coach. Additionally, DeShea Townsend, who was originally hired as Chicago’s defensive backs coach in January, has had his title changed to secondary coach. The Bears’ defense ranked first in scoring, third in yardage, and posted the best defensive DVOA since the 2015 Broncos, but they’ll have to fight off regression and adjust to new coaches in order to repeat as NFC North champions.
  • Former Panthers pass-rusher Everette Brown has re-joined the club as assistant linebackers coach, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. Carolina selected Brown with the 43rd pick of the 2009 draft, but he collected only six sacks over two seasons before being released. Brown, now 31 years old, subsequently spent time with the Chargers, Lions, Eagles, Cowboys, Redskins, and Browns, but played in only 16 more games after leaving the Panthers. He served as a coaching intern for Carolina last summer.
  • In case you missed it, expected Chiefs linebackers coach Matt House will instead stay on as the University of Kentucky’s defensive coordinator. The Wildcats were previously willing to allow House to leave a buyout, but apparently changed their minds as the hiring process unfolded.

Bengals Request Interview With Rams CBs Coach Aubrey Pleasant

The Bengals have requested permission to interview Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant for their defensive coordinator vacancy, according to Mike Jones of USA Today (Twitter link). Pleasant worked with new Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor in Los Angeles from 2017-18.

Pleasant is the first candidate linked to the Bengals’ DC job to not come with previous head coaching experience. Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan is the latest veteran coach tied to Cincinnati, while the Bengals have also expressed varying levels of interest in Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, former Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, and former Bears head coach John Fox. Allen has since received an extension from New Orleans, while Del Rio has bowed out of the running.

Pleasant, then, would give the Bengals a different vibe on the defensive side of the ball, and would entail Cincinnati turning over both its offense and defense to 30-somethings. A former collegiate coach at Michigan, Pleasant worked for the Browns and Redskins before joining the Rams in 2017.

Working under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Pleasant helped lead the Rams to top-10 finishes in defensive passing DVOA in both 2017 and 2018. Two of Pleasant’s cornerbacks — Nickell Robey-Coleman and Aqib Talib — ranked among Pro Football Focus‘ top-20 CBs.

Redskins Notes: Cousins, WRs, Baker, Staff

Washington’s seen turnover on its coaching staff and has a potentially contentious negotiation with Kirk Cousins forthcoming. Here’s the latest emerging out of the nation’s capital, courtesy of the Washington Post’s Mike Jones.

  • The Redskins would prefer to keep Cousins on a long-term deal, with Jay Gruden “standing on the table” for the sixth-year quarterback. Jones notes, though, Cousins is “a little salty” and is well aware of the differing opinions on him that exist within the organization. There aren’t any indications the sides could be closer together on terms, and Jones adds a $24MM franchise tag looms as a high likelihood despite more than five months remaining until the extension deadline. A tag for Cousins basically ensures he’s not with the Redskins in 2018, Jones writes. A tag then — at 144 percent of his 2017 salary — would come out to roughly $35MM, and the quarterback in this scenario could see the Redskins as having no faith in him if a second tag is the reality come mid-July.
  • DeSean Jackson is likely to depart as a free agent, with Jones noting the deep threat is too inconsistent for the Redskins brass’ taste. The team has a higher opinion of fellow 30-year-old UFA Pierre Garcon, who has said he wants to stay in Washington. But with other teams seeking receiver help and many performers who could have been on the 2017 market (Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Baldwin, Allen Hurns, etc.) being extended, Garcon is one of the top pass-catchers available. That could complicate his return. The Redskins have not entered into negotiations with Garcon or Jackson, but that’s not necessarily seen as a deviation from the norm nor should it signal that neither wideout will return.
  • Washington hired James Rowe as its new assistant defensive backs coach, per Jones. This comes a day after the Redskins announced the hiring of Torrian Gray as their top secondary boss. Rowe comes straight out of the Division II ranks, having served as Valdosta State’s defensive coordinator in 2016.
  • Prior to moving toward Gray, the Redskins wanted now-Rams assistant Aubrey Pleasant to serve in Gray’s capacity. Money served as an issue that led to an irked Pleasant departing, with the move to Los Angeles coming after the Redskins previously blocked teams from interviewing their coveted assistant. Jones also notes league insiders wonder if Gray will be able to gel with some Redskins veterans who preferred Pleasant and avoid being given the “inflexible” tag previous secondary coach Perry Fewell was upon being fired along with DC Joe Barry.
  • Washington does not view defensive end Chris Baker as a high priority, instead being “lukewarm” on the lineman, Jones writes. He’s expected to want more than the Redskins are willing to pay. A Redskins starter for three seasons, Baker notched 10.5 sacks in 2015-16.