Lions cornerbacks coach Dre Bly a good fit for Dan Campbell’s staff

Five things to know as team prepares for offseason work

Lions CBs coach Dre Bly

ALLEN PARK — When coach Dan Campbell added Dre Bly to the Detroit Lions coaching staff as cornerbacks coach, it seemed like a good fit. Almost natural. 

Bly, who played corner for the Lions in 2003-06, has connections with the coaching staff including defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. Like Bly, several Lions coaches are former NFL players, including Campbell. 

Bly made the move from coaching cornerbacks at North Carolina where he found success and learned as a coach.

During a press conference on Wednesday, his excitement about getting going was noticeable. 

“We want these guys to learn from us but also have a chance to do what we weren’t able to do. That’s the whole point of us coaching, passing the torch,’’ Bly said.

Five things to know about Bly:

1. From his time in Detroit to now he said the fiery fans are the same, but the leadership is a lot different. “I’m actually a little jealous, just looking at how they finished last year, looking at all the excitement on the field, looking at how much fun they were having with Dan and the rest of the coaching staff,’’ Bly said. “They were on ‘Hard Knocks’, there was a lot of excitement … across the football world, there’s a lot of excitement. Me as a former player that’s something that you could wish to be a part of, I didn’t get a chance to experience some of that as a player. It’s pretty cool to be back on the other side and to see the drive that the guys have, the coaches, the camaraderie we have on top, the group of men that Dan has put together. It’s pretty cool to see.’’

2. Bly checked many (if not all) of the boxes that Campbell sought in a cornerbacks coach. “Me being who I am, I wasn’t the tallest player, I wasn’t the fastest, I was able to do some things in this league because I was instinctive, I was smart and I was very confident and competitive. That was one of the first things that Dan said he was looking for out of his corners coach was a guy who was very compeittive, a guy who had a certain amount of confidence about himself,’’ Bly said. “A lot of times we are creatures of habit. If your leaders are a certain way then the guys that are around him will move the same way. That’s why you were able to see the Lions last year play the way they played because Dan moves a certain way, AG (Glenn) moves a certain way. That’s the way I move, we have a lot in common. I think I bring something unique to the position, to the room, instant credibility. A guy who’s very passionate, a guy who’s very relatable. I like to interact with players. I’m still in shape, I can move, I can get out and teach technique. I would agree we’re a group of guys who have a lot to give to the game.’’

3. Bly’s connection with Glenn goes back to when he was assigned No. 31 at North Carolina. He sought out someone in the NFL with the same number who maybe he could look up to. “AG at the time might have been the only guy who resonated with me and that number. Our games were very similar. He was a guy who was dynamic as a player, he was explosive, he was a kick returner, he made plays,’’ Bly said. In 2017 he was able to shadow Glenn, who was with the Saints, for the entire preseason. Campbell was also on the Saints’ staff at the time.  Bly and Glenn stayed in touch. “He knew I had a passion to get to the NFL. The league is about teaching. The men who are here I have a lot in common with. College was great, I loved it, did a lot of great things in Chapel Hill, had a chance to mentor some players and learned a lot from Mack Brown,’’ Bly said. “To have a chance to teach ball for 24/7 is something that I love to do. I’m excited to be here …’’

4. Bly, a two-time Pro Bowl player, is excited about the three veteran free agent defensive backs that the Lions have added — Cameron Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley. “We’ve been able to bring in three guys that have been highly productive, they’re around the football,’’ Bly said. “That’s one of the things we were looking for, along with the rest of the guys that we have to add to the fold. We’re excited. Three veteran players, guys who have been successful in this league, cerebral players, smart, good leaders in the meeting room and off the field.’’

5. Bly is still in shape and said he’ll be able to teach technique on the field. As a player, he won a Super Bowl ring as a rookie with the St. Louis Rams. In fact, two of his first three seasons he played in the Super Bowl. Then the following eight seasons — including the four with the Lions — he didn’t even make it back to the playoffs. Now he’s on a new mission — getting back to the postseason as a coach.

(UPCOMING: Players report for offseason workouts on Monday, April 17. The NFL draft takes place April 27-29.)


Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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