Lions’ offensive coaches will pull from varied backgrounds to craft passing game

Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions’ passing game in 2022 will be formed with the input of many.

Only a handful of coaches will have an actual say in what the offense looks like, sure, but Lions tight ends coach and passing-game coordinator Tanner Engstrand said at the close of minicamp that the backgrounds of himself and new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will go a long way in crafting what things will look like in Week 1.

“I think Ben’s been in several different backgrounds and I’ve been in a couple different ones,” Engstrand said. “I think it’s good to be able to draw from a bunch of different areas and his experiences, and then I can bring some stuff to the table. And everybody just kinda brings it all together, so there’s a lot of different experience in that way.”

Engstrand was promoted to his post as passing-game coordinator following the promotion of Johnson, who was handed the reins of Detroit’s offense this past offseason. Both men have been around the block in coaching.

Engstrand is a carryover from former Lions head coach Matt Patricia’s staff. He joined the team in 2020 after serving as offensive coordinator for the DC Defenders of the XFL, a stint with the Michigan Wolverines, and a decade-long run with the University of San Diego, where he held three different roles (offensive coordinator, assistant head coach, quarterbacks coach).

“My initial background was more in a west coast offense version,” Engstrand said. “Just going back to, shoot, my first year in coaching in 2005 for Jim Harbaugh, and shoot, (Lions senior offensive assistant John Morton) was our pass-game coordinator and our receivers coach that year. Being the (grad assistant) there, just kinda learned, that’s where I started with that stuff — being in a couple different places, evolving into iterations of that offense.”

Johnson enters his fourth season with the Lions after serving as both a tight ends coach and offensive quality control coach with the team. Prior to that, he held five different roles with the Miami Dolphins from 2012-18 and two different gigs (graduate assistant, tight ends coach) with Boston College (2009-11).

Mainly, Engstrand’s job as passing-game coordinator will be to simply “support Ben and the pass game in all aspects,” he said. “Really just to be a supporting member of the coaching staff with Ben and probably a little bit more emphasis in the pass game, and then maybe some of the other portions of the offensive scheme.”

While he doesn’t have too much experience in his current capacity with the Lions just yet, Engstrand said he already respects the approach Johnson takes to his job.

“Ben is very thorough, very detailed and very passionate about what he does,” Engstrand said. “He conveys the information to the players so that they can understand it. Whether that’s with examples or whether that’s just on the board. Whatever it may be, he’s able to convey the information for these guys to know in a clear and concise manner.

“He does a phenomenal job at it. He’s been fantastic.”

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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