Ben Johnson (Coach)

Lions Promote Ben Johnson To Offensive Coordinator

Ben Johnson was considered the favorite for the Lions offensive coordinator vacancy, and the tight ends coach ended up getting the gig. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter), the Lions are promoting Johnson to offensive coordinator.

The Lions have been seeking a new OC since parting ways with Anthony Lynn last month. Johnson emerged as a favorite for the job following a standout year in Detroit. After serving as an offensive quality control coach in 2019 and tight ends coach in 2020, Johnson took on even more responsibility in 2021.

While he still served as TEs coach, he saw an expanded role once Dan Campbell took over play-calling duties from Lynn around the midseason mark. Per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter), Johnson served as a “pseudo pass game coordinator.” Play-calling duties are still TBD for next season, per Birkett (on Twitter).

Recently, Johnson has played a big role in Pro Bowler T.J. Hockenson‘s ascension, and he’ll now look to kick-start an offense that’s still finding itself in a post-Matthew Stafford era. Prior to his stint in Detroit, the 35-year-old spent years in Miami, working his way up from offensive assistant to wide receivers coach.

NFC Coaching Notes: Lions, Bears, Giants, Falcons, 49ers

Dan Campbell and the Lions will begin interviewing candidates for the offensive coordinator vacancy this week, reports Dave Birkett of Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). However, tight ends coach Ben Johnson remains the favorite for the job.

Campbell took over play-calling duties from the one-and-done Anthony Lynn midseason, but Johnson’s responsibilities expanded in Detroit, as well. The 35-year-old has spent the past two seasons as the Lions tight ends coach, playing a big role in Pro Bowler T.J. Hockenson‘s ascension.

Previously, Johnson served as the Lions offensive quality control coach. He also had a seven-year stint on the Dolphins coaching staff.

More coaching notes out of the NFC…

  • The Bears continue to add to their coaching staff. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the Bears have hired Tyke Tolbert as their new wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. The 54-year-old coach had spent the previous three seasons as the Giants WRs coach. Tolbert has also had stints with the Broncos, Panthers, Bills, and Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Bears announced that they’ve hired Chris Morgan as their offensive line coach. The veteran coach was the assistant offensive line coach with the Steelers in 2021, and he had a stint as the Falcons OL coach from 2015 to 2020.
  • Bobby Johnson will be joining Brian Daboll in New York. According to Michael Silver (on Twitter), the Bills offensive line coach will be joining the Giants coaching staff in the same role. Johnson ended up spending three seasons in Buffalo. Meanwhile, the Giants are hiring Laura Young as their director of coaching operations, reports ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (via Twitter). This is believed to be the organization’s “first known woman hire on the coaching side.” Young previously served as the player services coordinator for the Bills.
  • The Falcons have hired Michael Pitre as their new running backs coach, the team announced (on Twitter). Pitre held the same role with the Bears this past season. The Falcons have been searching for a new RB coach since Desmond Kitchings left Atlanta to be the OC at Virginia.
  • Jon Embree won’t be back as the 49ers tight ends coach/assistant head coach next season, reports Matt Maiocco NBC Sports Bay Area (on Twitter). Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that Embree declined a pay cut to return to San Francisco. The coach had spent the previous five seasons with the 49ers and was often credited for George Kittle‘s development.

Coaching Rumors: Cardinals, McAdoo, Fins

The Cardinals interviewed two more head coach candidates today, but the search will continue into next week, according to Kent Somers of AZCentral Sports. The Cardinals have met with Steve Wilks and Keith Armstrong twice and will not need to interview current defensive coordinator James Bettcher another time because of his history with the organization. The team will also interview John DeFilippo and Brian Flores next week, per Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com (Twitter link).

In addition, Somer states that the team could look at giving Jim Schwartz a second interview, but Jurecki did not mention the Eagles defensive coordinator in his tweet. The search is mostly continuing because both the Eagles and Patriots will be playing in their respective conference championships, so depending on how the games shake out, Arizona could resolve their head coaching search by the end of next week.

Finally, Somers importantly notes that former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has recommended Bettcher and Armstrong among this pool of coaches the front office is considering.

Here are more a coaching notes from around the NFL:

  • In more Cardinals coaching staff news, now two former staffers have now left for new opportunities, reports Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). In addition to former special teams coordinator Amos Jones moving onto the same position with the Browns, former wide receiver coach Darryl Drake has been hired by the Steelers.
  • Hue Jackson is adding an offensive coordinator to his staff and have interviewed former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo for the job. He interviewed with the Browns three days ago and apparently “It went fine”, a Browns source tells Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Anderson adds that the source mentioned that they are “Just not going to rush into anything” after speaking to two candidates as of right now. Cleveland is also interviewing a high profile college coach in LSU’s RB coach Tommy Robinson for the same position on their staff, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
  • The Dolphins announced a slew of coaching moves today. The biggest apart from Dowell Loggains being brought on as offensive coordinator is former OC Clyde Christensen being reassigned as the team’s new director of football and player development. Shawn Jefferson was wide receivers coach, but will now be an assistant head coach working with the offense. They are also are promoting Ben Johnson to WR coach. He got experience with this group of players as an assistant WR coach last season.
  • The Bears have named Brock Olivo as the team’s new assistant special teams coach, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Olivo was the Broncos’ special teams coordinator last year and was with Matt Nagy on the Chiefs’ staff from 2014-16 as an assistant to special teams coordinator Dave Toub. He previously was a former running back for the Lions back in his playing days.
  • The Texans have promoted Anthony Midget to the team’s secondary coach, according to Mark Berman of Fox26 (Twitter link). Berman also notes that they have also hired Danny Barrett as the RB coach and Tracy Smith as an assistant special teams coach.

Dolphins Finalize Coaching Staff

The Dolphins have finalized Adam Gase‘s coaching staff for the 2016 season, announcing today in a press release that a number of assistants have been added or retained. The team had previously confirmed the hires of Clyde Christensen as offensive coordinator and Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator, among others, so today’s announcement doesn’t feature any major changes, but a few key roles have been filled.Lou Anarumo

[RELATED: Dolphins hire Adam Gase as head coach]

Here’s a breakdown of some of the noteworthy additions, promotions, or assignments announced today:

  • Danny Barrett, running backs coach
  • Ben Johnson, assistant wide receivers coach
  • Chris Kuper, offensive quality control
  • Lou Anarumo, defensive backs coach
  • Terrell Williams, defensive line coach
  • Charlie Bullen, assistant linebackers coach
  • Rusty McKinney, defensive quality control
  • Darren Rizzi, assistant head coach/special teams
  • Marwan Maalouf, assistant special teams
  • Dave Puloka, head strength and conditioning coach

Anarumo is perhaps the most interesting name on the list, since he finished the season as the Dolphins’ interim defensive coordinator after taking over for Kevin Coyle last October. Anarumo interviewed for the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator job earlier this month, but ultimately returned to Miami in the same role that he held for the club prior to his promotion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Make Changes To Offensive Staff

Like defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor still has a job with the team after the firing of head coach Joe Philbin. However, Miami is making changes to its coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball, as Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports (Twitter links).

According to Breer, longtime coach Al Saunders is coming aboard as an offensive consultant, assistant quarterbacks coach Ben Johnson is taking Dan Campbell‘s old tight ends coach role, and the team is also re-assigning wide receivers coach Ken O’Keefe.

Saunders, who has held various coaching positions around the NFL for more than 30 years, has a history with Lazor — both men were on Washington’s coaching staff in 2006-2007, with Saunders acting as the team’s assistant head coach, while Lazor was the quarterbacks coach.

Breer acknowledges (via Twitter) that there could be more changes coming to the Dolphins’ staff, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, but for now the club is tweaking its offensive coaching roles. Coyle remains in charge of the defense for now, but his job doesn’t appear entirely safe. Breer tweets that the Dolphins have discussed three former head coaches – Mike Smith, Jim Schwartz, and Greg Schiano – as candidates to come in and help on defense, adding that the situation remains “fluid.”

The Dolphins are entering their bye week, so the team will have a few extra days to get its staff in order before it returns to action in Week 6.