JANUARY 19: As could be expected, the Lions will reward Johnson for staying. The second-year Detroit OC will receive a large pay raise, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). While the Byron Leftwich development shows the risk of coordinators bypassing potential opportunities, Johnson will be attached a higher salary ahead of a potential 2024 HC bid.
JANUARY 17: Part of multiple teams’ HC searches during this year’s cycle, Ben Johnson is bowing out. The young offensive coordinator is opting to stay with the Lions, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.
Despite entering this season having not called plays before, Johnson became a hot name. The Colts, Panthers and Texans requested interviews with him. Carolina’s meeting was to take place Wednesday, but that will no longer come to pass.
Johnson, 36, had already interviewed virtually with the Colts and Texans. But he was viewed as a frontrunner for the Panthers job. Assistants’ stocks can change quickly, making Johnson’s decision somewhat risky, but the Detroit play-caller views the Detroit situation as promising enough to pass on this year’s lot of available jobs.
Dan Campbell promoted Johnson to OC last year, after the team moved on from Anthony Lynn after one season. The Lions’ offense led the way to the team becoming one of the season’s biggest surprises. Jared Goff delivered a bounce-back showing, ranking fifth in QBR and going from bridge starter to a player the Lions believe they can use as a long-term option. Jamaal Williams also led the NFL in rushing touchdowns. The former Packers draftee finished the season with 17, breaking Barry Sanders‘ record during the Lions’ upset win in Green Bay that prevented a Pack playoff appearance.
The Lions also have Amon-Ra St. Brown signed through 2024 and Jameson Williams inked through 2025. Williams stands to be available for all of 2023, after his January ACL tear shelved him for much of this season. The team wants to bring back DJ Chark, and the former Jaguars second-round pick said recently (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers) he wants to stay in Detroit. D’Andre Swift battled injuries this season, and Williams’ rise impeded the 2020 second-rounder’s role. But he remains under contract. Although Williams is a free agent, his Hard Knocks performance and season-wrapping NBC interview certainly point to an interest in sticking around. The Lions also have four starting offensive linemen from this season under contract for 2023.
This would set up Johnson to draw interest again in 2024, though he is passing on parlaying his first Detroit OC season — which produced top-five rankings in scoring, yardage and DVOA — into a gig this year. But Johnson has been with the Lions since 2019, moving from the quality control level to tight ends coach to OC. While Matt Patricia hired Johnson, he had worked with Campbell in Miami. Johnson will bet on his value remaining high at this time next year.
17 comments on “OC Ben Johnson To Stay With Lions”
Thank the good lord. FTP
Just goes to show you how inept these NFL GM and owners are. 1 decent year and “ come on down”
Or you can wait and miss out. Risk vs. reward, and the bulk of owners being stupidly rich, they can afford the risk.
Sure, it can be risky to pass on HC opportunities, but so can taking 1 that isn’t a good fit, he’s maybe not ready for, or any number of legitimate reasons.
Exactly, he was just a TE coach only a year ago.
If he wants a career as a HC, the last thing he wants to do is get in over his head before he’s had a chance to observe what it takes, and prepare for that responsibility.
Nathaniel Hackett would have been well-served to have done the same. But now he’ll have the stench of this season on him for several seasons, if he’s ever given another go around.
MCDC was also just a TE coach…
What is a “mcdc”?
Dan Campbell also learned a lot from a certain Sean Payton. Makes a huge difference.
He was also an interim head coach for Miami.
Great move by Ben Johnson! Stay put and get some more experience before jumping feet first into an opportunity he’d likely regret. If he remains this consistently good as the Lions OC then the right HC job will come his way soon enough
It’s wild that the greenest coordinator on the head coach candidate circuit isn’t even four months younger than Sean McVay. Not to take anything away from Johnson, of course. Puts in perspective what an outlier McVay is.
The dude was an OC for one (1) year. He’d be taking a massive career risk by signing on with one of those car-wreck franchises.
But there’s also the risk that he does a bad job next season and the head coaching positions never come back around.
If that’s the case (Johnson can only manage a single good year as OC), Johnson’s career as a head coach would have been very short. Better not to subject himself and his family to those spotlights in that case.
He loves the Goff.
This says a lot about Dan Campbell and the buy-in he has from his staff.