Detroit Lions: Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn bring a lot as former players

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

With the Brad Holmes era underway for the Detroit Lions, it appears the team’s next defensive coordinator is now locked down. Nothing is confirmed as it was also rumored that two other teams are suitors for this prospective coach.

Yesterday, the Detroit Lions officially named Brad Holmes as the next general manager for the organization. He is replacing a former member of the New England Patriots, Bob Quinn, who was relieved of duties along with head coach Matt Patricia following the teams’ loss to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving.

Holmes was formerly with the Los Angles Rams as their director of college scouting.

More pieces began to fall into place following the New Orleans Saints’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. Following the loss, it was reported that assistant coach and former NFL player Dan Campbell is expected to be officially named the Lions’ new head coach in the coming days.

Following that news, many began to speculate who would fill out the first-time head coaches tree in the Motor City. Speculation almost immediately pointed to a fellow Saints coaching staff member and another former player in his own right — Aaron Glenn.

Glenn is a former defensive back in the NFL. He was drafted by the New York Jets in 1994 and even interviewed for the team’s vacant head coaching position this year before the Jets ultimately decided on San Francisco 49’ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

Glenn also began his post-player days as a scout in the Big Apple. He would join the Cleveland Browns two seasons later as an assistant secondary coach under Mike Pettine. Glenn moved from the Browns to the Saints in 2016, where he remained until Tuesday afternoon’s news.

What do former players Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn bring to the Detroit Lions?

It’s not every day that two relatively youthful guys are brought in to help turn an organization around. It’s also not every day that the two former players actually played together before coming together as coaches.

For Campbell and Glenn, the two have played together in the past and coached together too.

For Campbell, his playing career began in 1999 with the New York Giants. He would remain there until 2003, when he would change teams in the NFC East, joining the Dallas Cowboys. Campbell spent the next three seasons in Dallas, including 2005. We’ll come back to that in a second.

He would then spend 2006-2008 in Detroit before retiring from playing. Campbell’s playing career wasn’t really successful, if we’re being honest. His best season came in 2006 when he recorded 21 catches for 308 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

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On the other hand, Aaron Glenn was a force to be reckoned with on the field and was a 3x Pro-Bowler.

In just his third year in the NFL, Glenn would start to flash his elite level of play, recording four interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns.

Two seasons later, in 1998, he would set a career-high in INT’s with six while still playing for the Jets.

In what I consider to be the best season of his playing career, and the time frame that I best remember him from is in 2002 after he joined the expansion Texans. That season Glenn had five picks and two touchdowns.

Both Campbell and Glenn are remembered for their physical style of play, right up until they subsequently ended up hanging up their playing cleats together in 2008.

While the two would go their separate ways following their playing days, they would reunite under Sean Payton in New Orleans.

What both of these guys bring to Detroit as former players is a high level of respect from their peers and players of the game today. Campbell is widely known for the style of coaching he is bringing with him, as his practice drills have been widely talked about on Twitter and several sports talk shows.

Both Campbell and Glenn are “players coaches.” They ask for a lot from their players, but players often respond appropriately.

It’s a cliché word that gets tossed around far too often in sports media — culture. But the fact of the matter is, in this case, it’s true.

Holmes, Campbell, and Glenn are joining an organization that has a poisoned culture. Since the days that Jim Caldwell was relieved of duties years ago, there have been grumblings that players were unhappy in Detroit under Patricia.

There was a major lack of respect there between players and the coaching staff. Something tells me that it will not be a problem under this new regime. There will be a tremendous amount of work demanded from everyone, but it will be asked of the players by two guys who were never afraid to get down and grind during their playing days.

The fact that Campbell and Glenn have experience playing coaching and scouting is a huge upside during this organization’s “re-tooling.”

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Will it happen overnight?

Not likely.

But it appears that the Lions have brought in the right men for the job.