To say Jeff Okudah struggled during his rookie season is to say the sun is bright. Okudah struggled with injuries and when healthy he struggled to cover the wide receiver across from him. Yet, Jeff Okudah came out of Ohio State as a top 5 talent, who was widely viewed by NFL and football experts as the top cornerback in last years NFL Draft. Day’s ago during an interview Okudah shed some light on why he struggled so mightily.
Jeff Okudah is good at saying what he means even if it means talking in code. I do not believe Okudah was taking a pot-shot at form Detroit Lions coaches, as much as he was explaining why he struggled despite being top 5 talent.
Jeff Okudah was recently asked about the new Lions coaching staff specifically new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant.
“Within the first couple of meetings, I was just picking up so much things that I thought to myself, ‘It just would have been nice to have these tools in my toolbox in my rookie year, Looking at the film and breaking down how the offense is trying to attack. That’s what I try to do every single day going into the game plan. So just having the tools that (Aubrey Pleasant) has put in my toolbox, it’s like I’m seeing film from a whole new perspective, I’m seeing the game completely different. That’s one thing that has me really excited going into my second year.”
On the surface it is a harmless quote. A deeper look is a rather damning blow to former Lions head coach Matt Patricia and his coaching staff. Okudah in essence pointed out that film study was never part of Lions game day preparation.
Many NFL experts have singled out Jeff Okudah as a player that will have a bounce-back season. Highly regarded Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn also has faith in Okudah who will be entering his second NFL season.
This is not a finger point at former Detroit Lions coaches! This is just a look at part of what went so wrong during that era of Lions football and how there could be hope with the new Lions coaching staff.
The Detroit Lions drafted defensive back Jeff Okudah with the third pick in last years NFL Draft. Okudah, started just six games and appeared in nine due to a hamstring injury that lingered throughout the season. When he was healthy, Okudah did not play well. At all. Enter new Lions head coach Dan Campbell who likes Okudah and believes his issues may all stem from a lack of confidence.
It needs to be stated that the NFL is typically rough on first year defensive backs. But Jeff Okudah had a rookie season to forget. Yet it seems that Okudah is a player the Detroit Lions are going to lean into during a massive rebuild.
Lacking confidence for any athlete is not good for player, coach’s, organizations and fan bases. Defensive backs already have a spotlight on them. They are all alone trying to cover the guy with world class speed across from them.
Defensive backs even the good one, even Hall of Famers, have been beaten more than once. The good ones figure it out. Defensive backs need to be thick-skinned. That sound easy, it is not.
Jeff Okudah had 47 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, one interception and four passes defended in 2020. One thing that should be mentioned, Okudah spent his rookie season in Detroit, a team that fired it’s head coach and front office after Thanksgiving.
Part of the issue I feel was former Lions head Matt Patricia’s defensive system. New Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn favors the Cover 1 with a little Cover 2 mixed in.
It is widely thought that Okudah is as good as advertised when the Detroit Lions drafted him. Dan Campbell said early this week he feels the players will be better because of the coach’s he has brought in. Confidence starts at the head and trickles down. It is good that Campbell is confident about his coaching staff.
Jeff Okudah and fellow defensive back Amani Oruwariye give the Lions two promising corner backs to build the secondary around. I look for Jeff Okudah to rebound under Aaron Glenn’s watch.