The Detroit Lions are pushing through the 2022 season, and while the team hasn’t been a success overall, their offense continues to put up numbers.
Most of this year, the Lions have been able to maintain a top 10 offense, and that could bode well for the future of Ben Johnson, the team’s offensive coordinator.
Though Johnson hasn’t really gotten his career in Detroit off to a proper start for more than half a year, he’s already being cited as a potential head coach in waiting by many in the media, including NFL.com analyst Tom Pelissero.
Pelissero included Johnson on his list of the assistants to watch in the league during this cycle. As he said, Detroit’s struggle on the field this year could mean Johnson has to wait, but in the future, he could be a quick addition for the team given his diverse background on offense.
“Johnson previously has coached quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends, and he has a good feel for the whole picture. Is he ready to run his own show after one year with a coordinator title? That’s unknown. But his reputation figures to get him in the room sooner than later,” Pelissero wrote.
The Lions might have to hope they can squeeze another season or two out of Johnson, but it’s clear his star is about to rise in a big way if the Lions offense stays hot.
It might be a little bit before Johnson gets hired, but the NFL is always looking for the next big thing, especially on offense. As a result, expect him to generate some buzz, perhaps as soon as this offseason.
Johnson Has Support of Lions Players
In terms of being a coach, the most important thing is support from players and staff. So far, Johnson seems to have that in spades from the folks he is working closest with in Detroit.
This offseason, there was plenty of talk about Johnson as a genius and a solid coach, and it was led by some of the team’s best players.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, June 9, center Frank Ragnow was asked about Johnson and what he liked about him. As he explained, communication was the biggest plus for the coordinator.
“I just think Ben’s brilliant, man. I can’t say enough about Ben Johnson. I think he’s an incredible head coach and the way he’s communicated to us and simplified it to us but yet still complicated (it) to maybe who we’re playing, I think it’s going to be very advantageous,” Ragnow told the media at the time.
So far, that’s been proven to be true. Whether or not it pays off with an immediate coaching job remains to be seen, but it would not be a shock to see Johnson in the mix thanks to these trends.
Johnson’s Coaching Biography
If Johnson wasn’t a name that is well-known for Lions 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 showing his stuff. Four times this season the Lions have eclipsed 30 points in a game, and the offense has hardly been the reason for the team’s struggles, even as Detroit was shut out by New England.
All of this could culminate in a big promotion for Johnson when all is said and done, which could be coming sooner rather than later if the insiders are to be believed.