Projecting the Lions defensive scheme now that Aaron Glenn is officially the DC

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Erik Schlitt
·2 min read
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The Detroit Lions have officially hired Aaron Glenn as their defensive coordinator and fans should feel excited by the hire as his background suggests a new style of defense in Detroit.

Like Lions coach Dan Campbell — who coached with Glenn in New Orleans the last five seasons — Glenn stems from the Bill Parcells coaching tree. He has extensive experience playing in 34 defensive schemes, but his time as a coach with the Saints was in a base 43 scheme.

With the Lions personnel leaning towards players with more 34 traits, it’s possible he leans on some of his past concepts to work with the players the Lions have on their current roster.

Where things get interesting, is when you examine the fact that the Lions almost hired former Los Angeles Chargers defensive line coach Griff Smith. Smith coached a hybrid front with the Chargers, using mainly a 34 Over scheme, which basically operates with 43 Under concepts.

In the clip below, Melvin Ingram (box highlighted) is the JACK LB, but notice how this front attacks the gaps:

Basically, if the Lions were after Smith because of his ability to develop players in this area, while also factoring in Glenn’s experiences and the Lions personnel, it’s possible the Lions will be looking to run a front that focuses on 1-gap penetration rather than 2-gap integrity (like the former staff).

In the secondary, Glenn will likely lean on his recent experience and that means reflecting on his time in New Orleans. They relied heavily on Cover-1 and 2-Man concepts — the most 2-man in the NFL per ESPN’s Matt Bowen — with some Cover-2, Cover-3, and Quarters zone concepts worked in as well.

Again, this lines up with the Lions personnel as well, as they were built for man coverage — the big difference this time is, they will have two safeties for help, rather than just one single high like in the previous scheme.

We’re still a long way from truly knowing exactly how this defense will shake out, but if you read the tea leaves, it sure looks like the Lions could be sticking with a 3-3-5, but adding a one-gapping approach upfront, as well as a 2-man coverage scheme in the secondary.