The Detroit Lions fanbase has suffered its fair share of “breakups” with great players over the years. The most recent one was with Matthew Stafford, who has now led the LA Rams to the Super Bowl in a little over a year since the split. Now Lions fans have to brace for impact. Because another one is coming. This time, it’s with a promising coach. Get ready, Detroit, because Aubrey Pleasant is as good as gone.
On Monday evening, the NFL Network reported that the Minnesota Vikings have formally requested to interview Pleasant for the vacant defensive coordinator position. And because it’s a promotion, the Lions can’t block the interview. Currently, Pleasant serves as the Lions secondary coach/passing game coordinator.
He also has ties to the new coach. After the Super Bowl, the Vikings will officially hire Kevin O’Connell as head coach. O’Connell and Pleasant worked together on the Rams coaching staff. So the familiarity is there.
Pleasant being in the mix for a defensive coordinator position should shock no one. His name is mentioned in many conversations. If you do a Google search for rising NFL coaches, you’ll find his name in many articles. And if an NFL team had hired Aaron Glenn away from the Lions, he’d certainly be a candidate to replace him in Detroit. Heck, Glenn may have taken Pleasant with him for himself.
Now there’s no need to panic, yet. It’s only an interview. The Minnesota Vikings could go in a different direction. Ravens’ defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is still in the mix.
However, if I had to put my money on it, he’d be preparing to say some goodbyes soon.
Pleasant has an “IT” factor about him. When the Flint-native walks into a room, it changes. When he speaks, people hang onto his every word. He tends to be poignant with is remarks. Then there’s his coaching, which is most important. On the field, he’s tough on his players. In fact, his extremely demanding. During Lions practices this season, Pleasant’s favorite place to be was “in the grill” of his defensive backs.
Fox Sports definitely captured proof of that from Week 1 of the season.
Despite being very demanding, his players didn’t complain. If anything, they thrived on it. After Pleasant would chastise players for missing an assignment or messing up on a drill, you rarely, if ever, say back-and-forth.
Players accepted accountability. You witnessed the pat on the chest and “My bad, coach.” Another thing that was constant throughout the season was praise for Pleasant. Not only does the staff love him, but the players love him. They play hard for him [and Aaron Glenn]. Players credit him for their successes without even being asked.
This past season, Pleasant worked with a very depleted Lions secondary, decimated by injuries and COVID-19. The work he did with undrafted free agents such as AJ Parker, Bobby Price, Jerry Jacobs, and Mark Gilbert was admirable. Now imagine him being able to help build a defense in his vision.
If Kevin O’Connell can get this in a guy he’s familiar with, why not hire him?
Regardless of if the Minnesota Vikings hire Aubrey Pleasant or not, the Lions fan base should not get attached. It’s not a matter of if he’ll be leaving Detroit. It’s only how soon. And unlike the Matthew Stafford split, this one could sting twice a year for quite a while.
Follow Kory Woods at KoryEWoods.