The Detroit Lions have a new defensive coordinator in former New Orleans Saints defensive backs/secondary coach Aaron Glenn. Glenn inherits a defense that set franchise records for most points and yards allowed in a season in franchise history, so his task is a rather difficult one.
Here are five things to know about Glenn:
1. Playing experience
Like head coach Dan Campbell, Glenn, 48, is a former NFL player turned coach. Glenn was a first-round pick by the New York Jets (No. 12 overall) out of Texas A&M. He spent 15 seasons in the league with the Jets (1994-2001), Texans (2002-04), Cowboys (2005-06), Jaguars (2007) and Saints (2008). He was a three-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro at cornerback. Despite being just 5-foot-9, Glenn finished his career with 41 interceptions, six returned for touchdowns and eight total touchdowns.
Glenn earned a bachelor's degree in business management from Texas A&M, where he was a two-time All-American, departing as the school's all-time leader in passes defensed in a season (20), season punt-return average (19.9) and punt return yards in a game (131).
2. Coaching resume
Glenn started his coaching career as an assistant defensive backs coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2014, before taking the defensive backs job with the New Orleans Saints in 2016.
Campbell and Glenn both played at Texas A&M, although their times at the program didn't overlap. Both also joined the Saints staff in 2016. Campbell and Glenn also played together for the Dallas Cowboys back in 2006. Bill Parcells was the coach of the Cowboys in 2006, and both Campbell's and Glenn's coaching roots stem from his influence.
3. Making a difference
In 2015 before Glenn was hired, the Saints allowed a passer rating against of 116.2, one of the worst marks in NFL history. That figure has been under 90.0 three of the past four seasons, including 2020, when opponents were held to an 83.3 passer rating (fourth best in the NFL), and the Saints tied for the league lead with 18 interceptions.
During the 2019 season, Glenn's defensive backs recorded nine interceptions, three sacks, six forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries.
He's had a helping hand in the growth of safeties Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore was the youngest Saint (21 years old) ever selected to the Pro Bowl and the franchise's first AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The Lions weren't the only team interested in bringing Glenn in. He interviewed with the Jets and Tennessee Titans for their head coaching vacancies. He was expected to be in consideration for the defensive coordinator role in Atlanta. The Cincinnati Bengals tried to interview him for their defensive coordinator role back in 2019, but were blocked by the Saints.
5. Immediate support
The Lions have some young developing players in their secondary, most notably second-year cornerback Jeff Okudah, third-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye and fourth-year safety Tracy Walker. How much difference can new GM Brad Holmes, Campbell and Glenn have on improving those young players in Detroit's secondary? Okudah seems excited to find out.