The Detroit Lions had been waiting patiently to see what would play out with offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, a popular name in this hiring cycle.
Johnson was reportedly favored for the Carolina Panthers job and was looking like a red-hot candidate to land a head coaching job in this cycle. The coach, though, didn’t end up biting on the chance to fly the coop just yet.
According to NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero, Johnson will be returning to the Lions in 2023. That was in spite of plenty of interest, and a thought he could leave. The reasoning per Pelissero? He thinks Detroit is building something and wants to see it through.
“Lions OC Ben Johnson informed interested teams he’s staying in Detroit, per sources. Johnson was slated to travel Wednesday to interview with the Panthers. But he feels Detroit is building something special and wants to see it through. Should be a hot HC name again next year,” Pelissero tweeted.
Johnson looks like a rising star in the coaching profession, but he has also only had one full year as a coordinator. With this news, it’s clear Johnson wants to take his time and hone his craft while being selective with his opportunities.
Johnson’s Return Big News for Lions
In terms of a positive way to start this offseason, there could be nothing better for the Lions than seeing Johnson return to the team. Why? His offense was near the top of the league in 2022.
This past season, the Lions finished with a top four total offense, putting up 380 yards per-game. Detroit’s passing offense was ranked eighth overall, putting up 4,281 yards and 29 touchdowns to go with 251.6 yards per-game. Amon-Ra St. Brown was the leader at the spot with six touchdowns and 1,161 yards.
Detroit’s rush offense was 11th, going for 128.2 yards per-game and 2,179 total yards and 23 touchdowns. Jamaal Williams was dominant with 17 touchdowns and 1,066 yards to lead this group.
Now that he is coming back, Johnson can continue to oversee the development of Jared Goff, someone that has sung his praises from the start that he has developed a quality relationship with. Johnson can also continue to help Jameson Williams gain his footing in the league.
With Johnson back, the Lions could be poised to become one of the most dangerous offenses in the league in 2023.
Johnson’s Coaching Biography
If Johnson wasn’t a name that is well-known for NFL fans prior to this season, that is hardly a surprise. He had flown under the radar before leading Detroit to a top 10 offensive ranking most of the 2022 season.
The tight ends coach has been in the background for a while now while putting together his career, but looking beyond that, nobody can deny the experience he has piled up thus far whatsoever. Johnson got his start in the league in 2012 with Miami as a offensive assistant after playing quarterback in college for North Carolina.
During 2013-15 Johnson was Miami’s assistant quarterback coach. When 2015 came, he was promoted to tight ends coach during the season. From 2016-2017, Johnson was an assistant wideout coach where he helped Jarvis Landry become an elite wideout given 22 total scores in his career there. In 2018 before he departed, Albert Wilson was mentored for success as well with four touchdowns, which remains his career high.
Johnson joined the Lions in 2020 under Matt Patricia and immediately helped T.J. Hockenson with his development. During the 2021 season, he was given more influence over the team’s offense and helped Campbell with game planning and schematics. That allowed him the chance to call more plays on the field and take the reigns.
Now that Johnson is an offensive coordinator, he’s shown his stuff. Seven times this past season the Lions eclipsed 30 points in a game, and the offense was hardly the reason for the team’s struggles, even in some of their closer games or blowout losses.
All of this could figure to help Johnson get a big promotion eventually, but right now, he will continue on in his role as Detroit’s offensive coordinator.