LIONS

Detroit Lions fire DBs coach Aubrey Pleasant after implosion vs. Miami Dolphins

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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A day after the Miami Dolphins shredded their NFL-worst defense for 382 yards passing, the Detroit Lions fired defensive backs coach and defensive pass game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant.

Pleasant declined comment Monday. Lions coach Dan Campbell later addressed the move, confirmed by multiple sources, at his weekly news conference Monday afternoon.

Pleasant, a Flint native, is the second coach Campbell has demoted or fired in-season in his less than two seasons in Detroit.

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Detroit Lions defensive backs coach and pass game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant, right, during minicamp at the practice facility in Allen Park on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.

Last year, Campbell stripped offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn of play-calling duties after eight games, and fired Lynn after the season. The Lions started last season 0-8 and topped 20 points in just one of their first 11 games.

This year, the Lions rank last in the NFL in total and scoring defense and have allowed at least 24 points in every game during their NFL-worst 1-6 start.

On Sunday, Tua Tagovailoa threw for three touchdowns and completed 81% of his passes (29 of 36) as the Dolphins rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit for a 31-27 win. Tyreek Hill led Miami with 12 catches for 188 yards, and Jaylen Waddle had eight catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

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After the game, Campbell said the Lions "did not do well in this game plan that was designed for these guys."

"There’s a certain way you have to play them, and look, they want to keep you in base defense," Campbell said. "They want to see if they can funnel out your SAM linebacker and get him in space. So that was part of the plan, stay in more of a nickel-type package with Will Harris. And so it’s something we worked all week. We were trying to take away these bend throws on speed, and layer over the top. Let Kerby (Joseph) kind of spy a little bit, and we just – we didn’t handle it well. We didn’t. So they didn’t do anything. I mean, they did exactly what we knew they would do. They just did it. Did it over and over and had their way.”

The Lions have started four cornerbacks and five safeties in various configurations this season as they've battled injuries and inconsistency in their secondary.

Jeff Okudah has played well after missing most of last year with a torn Achilles tendon, but Amani Oruwariye briefly lost his job as the Lions' No. 2 cornerback, safey Tracy Walker is out for the season with a torn Achilles and DeShon Elliott missed Sunday's game with a finger injury.

Rookie Kerby Joseph has started four straight games in Walker's place, and Juju Hughes filled in as the Lions' second safety Sunday.

Detroit Lions defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant looks on during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field, Jan. 9, 2022 in Detroit.

Asked about the job Pleasant was doing with Okudah and the rest of the secondary last week, Campbell said, "He’s done a heck of a job with those guys."

"Overall it’s a pretty young crew and we’ve had injuries and still have them," Campbell said. "But I know Okudah is, you really feel like he’s progressing nicely. He’s progressing right where you want him to go and I feel like over the last three weeks or so he’s just gotten a little bit better, a little bit better. And last week was certainly a good game for him. So, Jeff’s put in a ton of work. He wants to be good. He asks a lot of questions. He puts – he puts in the time and A.P. certainly is helping him do that, which is good. So, he’s had to work with a lot and move a lot of pieces around, and he and Duker both have had to kind of work in that area. But it’s – they’ve done a good job with it.”

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Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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