Lions Coach ‘Atop’ Adam Peters’ List for Commanders Head Coach Search: Report

Dan Campbell and Ben Johnson

Getty A prominent member of the Detroit Lions' coaching staff is "atop" new GM Adam Peters' list to be the next head coach of the Washington Commanders.

Adam Peters taking over as the top football decision-maker for the Washington Commanders could make the search for a new head coach a quick process. Especially since Detroit Lions’ offensive coordinator Ben Johnson “is believed to be atop Peters’ list” of candidates to replace Ron Rivera.

That’s according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, speaking on NFL GameDay’s The Insiders (h/t Ian Rapoport), who also revealed the Commanders are “going to have competition for him, though. The Chargers, Panthers, Titans, Falcons have all put in requests for Johnson, who also could be in play in Seattle.”

Pelissero isn’t the only one reporting the Commanders as a strong candidate to hire Johnson. A partnership of the Lions’ play-caller and Peters is what “some league circles are watching” for, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Johnson looks like the favorite to replace Rivera, but the Commanders are running the rule over other options. Many of them offer backgrounds on defense, including Johnson’s counterpart with the Lions, Aaron Glenn.

Both plan to take all of their interview requests, including the Commanders, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post.

Glenn is in the mix, but another prominent defensive coordinator is emerging from the pack.

Adam Peters’ Arrival Could be Good News for Ben Johnson

When the Commanders hired Peters on Friday, January 12, per Fowler’s colleague Adam Schefter, he arrived with an impressive CV. Previous stops include stints with the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers.

Peters has been in the thick of scouting and personnel decisions during successful periods for each franchise, per Jhabvala.

The Commanders new GM knows what it takes to build a winner. Specifically, Peters knows the value of careful development at the quarterback position.

He’s seen it work wonders for Brock Purdy in San Francisco. Purdy has gone from the last player selected in the 2022 NFL draft to productive, winning starter for a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Purdy’s development owes a lot to 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan, whose schemes have given his signal-caller easy reads, quick throws and big plays. Peters may see the same qualities in Johnson, whose playbook has revived the career of Jared Goff in Detroit.

Goff has posted back-to-back 4,000-yard passing seasons on Johnson’s watch. One of the main things Johnson has done is help make Goff lethal against pressure. The Lions’ QB1 “leads the NFL with 1,623 yards against the blitz this season,” per Next Gen Stats.

Struggling to deal with pressure is one reason Sam Howell was sent to the bench for the Commanders late in the season. Howell’s case was hardly helped by playing behind a weak offensive line that surrendered 65 sacks.

Significantly, an emphasis on the trenches has been at the core of Johnson’s success in Detroit. He admitted, “Other teams might showcase their skill players a little bit more. We try to showcase our offensive line,” per The Ringer’s Ben Solak.

Fixing things up front will be as important as how the Commanders develop their next quarterback. Whether it’s Howell or, more likely, a top-two draft pick.

Johnson makes sense as somebody who could finally get the quarterback situation right. Yet, the Commanders need defensive help in the worse way.

Help a former head coach working for an NFC East rival can provide.

Dan Quinn Still Firmly in the Mix to Replace Ron Rivera

As Pelissero told Rapoport, “Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is another name to watch in Washington. He’s been a head coach before of course, from his Atlanta days. That experience could be valuable, Ian, coming into a situation with a first-time GM.”

This isn’t the first time Quinn has been linked with the Commanders. Like Johnson, Quinn will have to keep the Commanders waiting because the Dallas Cowboys have a playoff date with the Green Bay Packers, while the Lions host the Los Angeles Rams on Wild-Card weekend.

Once he’s available, Quinn makes sense as somebody capable of fixing a defense ranked last in both points and yards this season. There’s enough talent on offense for even competent coaching at the assistant level to fashion a prolific unit.

It’s a different story on defense, where both fresh thinking and recruitment of the right talent are needed. Quinn knows how to build defenses and would surely be comfortable turning the offense over to a skilled play-caller, the way he did with Kyle Shanahan for the Falcons.

Fielding a tougher defense in 2024 will surely help the Commanders ease the pressure on a rookie QB needing to win right away.

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