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Broncos head coach candidate: Aaron Glenn, Detroit Lions Defensive Coordinator

The Denver Broncos have interviewed Lions DC Aaron Glenn for their open head coaching position. Here is everything you need to know about him.

Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

A Texas native, Aaron Glenn was a standout cornerback for the Texas A&M Aggies. Over the course of Glenn’s All-American college career, he picked off nine passes and earned the SWC Newcomer of the Year award, as well as being named to the All-SWC First-Team twice. Glenn’s college success led to him being drafted 12th overall in the 1994 NFL Draft to the New York Jets. At the time, the Jets were led by Pete Carroll with Ed Donatell (a name Broncos fans are very familiar with) serving as the Defensive Backs coach.

With a revolving door in the coaching room, it wasn’t until Glenn’s third season that the stats began to pour in. In 1996, in Rich Kotite’s second year, Glenn recorded 4 INTs, a then-career-high, and returned two for touchdowns. The following year in 1997, Bill Parcells was named the Head Coach of the New York Jets. In 1997 and 1998, Glenn was named to two of his three Pro Bowl appearances. Glenn posted over 100 tackles and 7 interceptions in those two years and helped the Jets make it to the AFC Championship in 1998. Glenn also played with Nebraska HC Scott Frost from 1998-2000.

Under Parcells, Glenn tallied up over 10 interceptions in three years. In 2000, Parcells stepped up into the GM role and the team hired Al Groh to be the Head Coach. It was there that Glenn met Todd Bowles, who was the secondary coach. The New York Jets continued to be a revolving door with coaches, and Herm Edwards took over.

Then, the NFL expanded. Glenn was claimed by the Houston Texans in the expansion draft in 2002. In that first year with Houston, Glenn once again made the Pro Bowl. He and Gary Walker were the first Houston Texans to ever make the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately for Glenn, the injury bug bit him in 2003, but he rebounded in 2004, starting all 16 games for the Texans and recording 14 PBUs with 5 INTs. Glenn was released by the Texans in 2005.

Staying in Texas, he re-united with Bill Parcells in Dallas with the Cowboys. Despite being 33, Glenn led the Cowboys in INTs that year and recorded another 13 PBUs. After Wade Phillips was hired, replacing Parcells, Glenn traveled around to the Jaguars and Saints but never played a full season. Glenn retired as a Texan in 2010.

In his career, Glenn tallied up 639 tackles, 41 interceptions, 5 PBUs, and 102 PBUs.

Glenn’s notoriety led to him being hired as the General Manager of a Texas Arena Football league team, the Houston Stallions, in 2012. Glenn stayed there for a few months, but then was hired as a scout by the New York Jets and resigned from his role as a GM. Glenn served as the Area Scout for Texas for the Jets, and played a role in them drafting Jace Amaro.

In 2014, Glenn was hired to be the Assistant Defensive Backs coach for the Cleveland Browns under Mike Pettine. Working with Jeff Hafley and Bobby Babich, Glenn helped the Browns earn the 5th-ranked DVOA against the pass in 2014. Working with players like Joe Hadan, Tashaun Gipson, Jordan Poyer, and Donte Whitner, the Browns defense that year finished second in the league in interceptions. Unfortunately, injuries bit the defense in 2015, and the team finished 3-13-leading to Mike Pettine being fired.

With the staff being cleaned out, Glenn soon found himself in demand. The New Orleans Saints, who Glenn played for before retiring, hired Glenn to be their Secondary coach under Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen. In New Orleans, Glenn has helped turn around their defense, leading to one of the best defenses over the last few seasons. When he took over in 2016, the defense’s DVOA against the pass was 27th. In 2017, the defense climbed to 5th. Since 2017, the lowest New Orleans finished in DVOA against the pass was 12th.

Glenn has been instrumental in developing several star defensive backs for New Orleans. Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Vonn Bell, Eli Apple, and P.J. Williams all enjoyed success under Glenn in New Orleans.

His success in New Orleans led to him being hired by Dan Campbell as his Defensive Coordinator in Detroit.

Inheriting the broken roster left behind by Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn, Glenn helped the Detroit defense climb from dead last in DVOA to 29th, despite frequent injuries. The numbers aren’t necessarily pretty, but the play on the field is rather eye-opening. He’s helped turn around a bunch of strung-together players and forgotten free agents and turned them into a team that fought every single week. Young players like Amani Oruwariye, Derrick Barnes, Alim McNeill, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin all took a significant step forward in their development. Some free-agent buy-lows like Alex Anzalone and Charles Harris enjoyed an excellent season under him as well. To me what was most notable about his development was turning two UDFAs, Jerry Jacobs and AJ Parker, into NFL starters.

It’s tough to get a read on Glenn’s overall scheme, given the frequent injuries the team faced. However, getting that defense to play as well as it did with their talent level stands out to me. His development skills were on full display, and they shined.

For Denver, I’m very intrigued. Glenn’s leadership and energy are raved about by people around the league I talk to, and he’s a very popular candidate. Fans in Detroit love him. When I spoke to a few Lions fans I know, each responded they’d be some form of devastated or distraught if he left. People in New Orleans felt similarly. With what he did in Detroit, what could he do with this Broncos’ defense? He checks off a lot of boxes that Paton mentioned in his press conference that he was looking for in a new head coach.

Really, the only negative I can gather about Glenn is he is young. This is just his first year as a coordinator. However, I have to imagine that his time around New Orleans, as well as his experience serving as a GM and a scout, has to be intriguing.

Potential Offensive Coordinator hires: Joe Brady, Former Carolina Panthers Offensive Coordinator; Ronald Curry, New Orleans Saints Quarterbacks Coach; Duce Staley, Detroit Lions Running Backs coach/Assistant Head Coach

Potential Defensive Coordinator hires: Ryan Nielsen, New Orleans Saints Defensive Line coach/Assistant Head Coach; Aubrey Pleasant, Detroit Lions Defensive Backs coach/Passing Game Coordinator; Bobby Babich, Buffalo Bills Safeties coach


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