Grading Detroit Lions Coaching Hires

Dan Campbell has assembled a solid Detroit Lions coaching staff.
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Dan Campbell's coaching staff with the Lions is starting to take shape. 

And so far, it appears that he's assembled a strong group of assistant coaches. 

Here are my grades for the assistants that he's hired up to this point. 

Duce Staley, running backs coach/assistant head coach: A  

Staley, the former Philadelphia Eagles running backs coach and assistant head man, was rumored at one point to be a candidate to replace Doug Pederson as the head coach in Philadelphia. 

Instead, the former NFL running back, who spent 10 years in the league with the Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, joins new Lions head man Dan Campbell's staff as the team's running backs and assistant head coach. 

I love this hire, and think Staley could help Detroit running back D'Andre Swift take the next step in his second NFL campaign. 

This is an "A" hire from Campbell & Co. 

Anthony Lynn, offensive coordinator: B 

Lynn comes to the Motor City to serve as Campbell's offensive coordinator, after spending four seasons as the head coach of the L.A. Chargers. 

He has limited experience calling plays, spending one season as the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills in 2016. 

The Bills led the league in rushing that season, though, and it could be a sign of Detroit's emphasis on the ground game in 2021. 

Another sign of that is the fact that he was a running backs coach with multiple NFL teams from 2003-16 -- the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, N.Y. Jets and Bills. 

His experience as an NFL head man could also be a valuable asset to Campbell as a first-year head coach. 

In four seasons with the Chargers, Lynn recorded two winning campaigns, including a playoff berth and subsequent postseason win in 2018. 

Sure, Campbell and the Lions could've opted for an individual with more prior play-calling experience for this role. However, I still think this hire will turn out to be a smart one for the new regime. 

Aaron Glenn, defensive coordinator: B+ 

The Lions' new defensive coordinator worked alongside Campbell with the New Orleans Saints. Glenn served as the defensive backs coach in New Orleans from 2016-20. 

The former three-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro defensive back has never called plays before. But, he was a coach on the rise with the Saints, and appeared ready to take the next step and become a coordinator. 

Now, he gets the chance to do so with the Lions, a team that badly needs to be rejuvenated on the defensive side of the ball. 

He helped cornerback Marshon Lattimore become a three-time Pro Bowler in New Orleans, and the hope is he can have the same impact on fellow Ohio State product Jeff Okudah in Detroit. 

I commend Campbell for giving Glenn a shot in Motown, and could see this hire working out for both parties. 

Aubrey Pleasant, defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator: A+

Pleasant, a Flint, Mich., native, joins the Lions as their new defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator, after spending the past four seasons with the L.A. Rams as their DBs coach. 

He started off his coaching career as the defensive backs coach at Grand Blanc High School in Michigan, and followed that up with a stint at the University of Michigan as first a defensive graduate assistant and then as the assistant defensive backs coach. 

He also had stops in Cleveland and Washington before joining Sean McVay's staff with the Rams. 

He comes highly regarded, as two-time All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey credits Pleasant for helping him produce the first-team All-Pro campaign he just wrapped up in Los Angeles. 

Just like with Glenn, Pleasant should aid in the development of Okudah. 

Additionally, Pleasant was rumored to have at least been considered to take over as the Rams' defensive coordinator in 2021, after the team's former defensive play-caller Brandon Staley left to take the head coaching vacancy with the Chargers. 

So, the addition of Pleasant appears to be a slam-dunk hire for the organization. 

Dave Fipp, special teams coordinator: A 

Fipp comes over to Detroit from Philadelphia, where he had served as the team's special teams coordinator since 2013. 

During his time in Philadelphia, the Eagles ranked second in both special teams touchdowns (12, via four kickoff return touchdowns, four punt return scores and four blocked punts returned for TDs) and  combined blocked punts and kicks (18, via seven blocked kicks and 11 blocked punts). 

Additionally, the Eagles have accounted for the fifth-fewest special teams penalties (94) in that span. 

In his second year in Philadelphia, he oversaw a special teams unit that produced a franchise-best and NFL-high seven touchdowns -- three off of blocked punt returns and two each via kickoff returns and punt returns -- as well as a league-high six blocked kicks. 

The Lions' special teams unit was the organization's most consistently productive unit in 2020, and it should be in good hands once again with Fipp leading the way. 

Mark DeLeone, linebackers coach: B+  

DeLeone joins the Lions' coaching staff as the franchise's linebackers coach, after spending the past two seasons on Matt Nagy's staff in Chicago as the inside linebackers coach. He served in the same role with Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018. 

He decided to join Campbell's staff, after being passed over for the Bears' defensive coordinator vacancy -- left vacant by the retirement of Chuck Pagano -- in favor of Chicago safeties coach Sean Desai. 

DeLeone's claim to fame is mentoring Bears linebacker Roquan Smith and helping him produce a career-best year in 2020. Smith finished with career-high totals in combined tackles (139), tackles for loss (18) and passes defensed (seven). 

This appears to be another strong hire for Campbell & Co.