Dan Campbell Speaks Out on Potential Ben Johnson Departure

Dan Campbell

Getty Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell addressed the possibility of losing offensive coordinator Ben Johnson to a head coach opening.

NFL teams deal with player departures every single offseason. But the biggest loss the Detroit Lions might sustain from their 2023 team may not be a player, but rather offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.

Johnson has been one of the hottest NFL coaching candidates since November. Although only two head coach openings — with the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders — remain, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on January 29 that Johnson will interview with both teams.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell addressed the possibility of losing Johnson while speaking to the media the day after the team’s 34-31 NFC championship game loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

“He’s a critical piece for us,” Campbell told reporters, via MLive.com’s Kory E. Woods.

But the Lions head coach added that he isn’t yet concerned about replacing Johnson.

“I’m not worried about that just yet,” Campbell said. “I need to get at least two hours of sleep.

“I am not going to rush [potentially replacing Johnson].”

Johnson has served as Detroit’s offensive coordinator each of the past two seasons. Under his play calling, the Lions finished ranked in the top 5 in yards and points scored during both seasons.

Prior to 2022-23, the last time the Lions were top 5 in both yards and points scored in back-to-back years was 1953-54.

Detroit Lions’ Ben Johnson, Aaron Glenn to Interview for Remaining Head Coach Openings

There was early steam in the NFL rumor mill that the Lions would lose both Johnson and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn to head coaching jobs this offseason.

USA Today’s Commanders Wire’s Bryan Manning wrote on January 28 that Washington will interview Glenn the same day they meet with Johnson. But the numbers are in Detroit’s favor that the team won’t lose both coordinators.

Johnson landing in Seattle and Glenn leaving for Washington sounds to be the only way that’s still possible.

ESPN’s Jeff Darlington said on SportsCenter on the afternoon of January 26 that “it is a pretty foregone conclusion in Washington” that “Ben Johnson will wind up being the coach of the Commanders.”

Although disappointing, that would likely rule out Glenn also leaving.

However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter contradicted his colleague on January 29.

“I’m not convinced yet that Ben Johnson is getting the Commanders job. I know people have said that he is the presumptive favorite,” Schefter said while appearing on The Pat McAfee Show on January 29, via Awful Announcing. “He may get the job. He very well may. He’s in contention.

“But that is not a slam dunk at all right now, and they’re definitely looking at other people as well.”

Schefter mentioned Glenn, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald and Ravens associate head coach and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver as the other likely candidates for the Washington job.

Potential Lions OC Promotion Candidate Receives Interview

As if losing one or two coordinators isn’t enough, there are possibly more moving parts on Detroit’s coaching staff.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced on January 29 that they interviewed Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El for their offensive coordinator opening.

Randle El began his NFL coaching career with the Buccaneers in 2019 and won the Super Bowl as part of Bruce Arians’ staff in February 2021.

The past three seasons, Randle El has served as Detroit’s wide receivers coach. He’s overseen the development of former fourth-round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown into an All-Pro. He also helped bring along Jameson Williams in 2023 after a rocky offseason for the former first-round pick.

Presumably, Randle El would be a candidate to replace Johnson if he departed Detroit. Therefore, it would obviously be extremely hurtful for the Lions to lose their receivers coach before then seeing their offensive coordinator depart.

The season may be finished, but the next week will likely be an interesting one for the Lions. They could conceivably have three significant job openings on their staff.

It’s also possible none of those departures happen.

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