Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson garnering even more head coaching buzz

SideLion Report

Ben Johnson is gaining notice as a future head coach, but could he be one-and-done as Lions’ offensive coordinator?

Ben Johnson was more involved in the Detroit Lions’ offense late last season, adding passing game coordinator duties to his role as tight ends coach. He parlayed that into being named the offensive coordinator, and he is calling plays for the first time this season.

The Lions’ offense has has its ups and downs this season. But the overall results have been good, top-10 in the league in points (25.0) and total yards (362.9) per game.

Johnson has shown up on a couple lists of future head coaching candidates in recent months. So that kind of buzz around him is not new. But it is growing, as the season winds down.

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson getting more head coaching buzz

NFL insider Jason La Canfora, writing for the Washington Post, highlighted Johnson among the “buzziest names to watch in the next NFL hiring cycle.”

First-year coordinator Ben Johnson, 36, began opening eyes at the start of the season, deploying a multiple and unique rushing attack that has helped the Lions be far more viable on offense than most would have predicted. Thanksgiving’s stout performance against an elite Buffalo defense was in many ways his national coming-out party.

Perhaps you heard Tony Romo gushing about Johnson’s gutsy play calls and intrinsic feel for putting his players in position to succeed. The CBS analyst was merely saying out loud what NFL decision-makers have been whispering since the summer. The more people study Johnson’s approach and schematics — and the more they hear how his players talk about him — the more buzz grows that he has the makings of a head coach himself, quite possibly in 2023.

The Lions’ solid offensive showing against a good Buffalo Bills’ defense on Thanksgiving Day, with plenty of people watching, surely had eyeballs on Johnson who wouldn’t be able to watch on a typical Sunday afternoon. La Canfora further cited what NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger told him.

It looks like what Mike McDaniel is doing in Miami,” longtime NFL broadcaster and analyst Brian Baldinger told me. “All the shifts and motions. I really like when he’s doing with that offense.

It’s very unlikely Johnson gets an NFL head coaching job after just one year as a coordinator and play caller. But it’s not out of the question, and there’s just enough (metaphorical) smoke to think he’ll have multiple interview opportunities at season’s end.

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