Ben Johnson Gambles on the Lions


The Detroit Lions have already has a successful off-season. We’re only nine days into it and haven’t hit free agency or the draft. But Ben Johnson has been the talk of the town.

Ben Johnson

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson informing the team, per Tom Pelissero, he’ll return after feeling out the interview process for head coaching jobs is a huge win.

Johnson was one of the hottest names on the coaching carousel this off-season. He led the group to the fifth highest scoring offense in the league this year.

He doesn’t have Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen at quarterback. Ben Johnson didn’t even have his prized first round draft pick for most of the season.

His second-best receiving option got traded away mid-season. And his All-Pro center played with a broken toe most of the year.

But even through all those hurdles, Johnson coached the offense to incredible success in 2022. He made Jared Goff look like a pro-bowl player. And guided Jamaal Williams to break a franchise record held by some guy named Barry Sanders.

So the fact that Johnson is running it back with the Lions in 2023 is quite the late Christmas present.

Money Ain’t Everything

After reading some tweets and comments about why Johnson would not want to take an NFL head coaching job, I’m a bit confused.

Some of you are so sure that it’s a no-brainer that being a coordinator on an above average (trending to be good) team is better than being a head coach of a rebuilding team.

If that’s the case then why does it happen every single year. A group of up-and-coming coordinators take over for bottom feeder teams every season.

Why do coaches who tried and failed as a head coach want to go through it again? Like Josh McDaniels and at one time Bill Belichick.

Because there are only 32 of these jobs and they are the most highly regarded in their sport. They also come with a (much) higher salary than coordinators and position coaches.

This is something most of us should be able to relate to.

If your boss came to you right now and offered you a raise 4-5 times what you currently make to move to a different but similar department you’d at least consider it. Now add the fact that you would be the lead guy in that department and could run it how you want to. It’s pretty tempting. Oh by the way you’re doing the job you love and this new position is one of a few dozen in the world most people in your profession would love to do.

The fact that this new department might not have as talented people as the one you were in might not seem as big of a deal after hearing all of that.

Before you X out of this and respond to the post, I understand, not EVERYONE would take the job. But the majority would.

Uncommon Move

Few coordinators have willingly taken themselves out of being a head coach candidate to go back to their current team. It just doesn’t happen often.

There is no guarantee that Johnson will get as many, or any, interviews next off-season. Who’s saying any job openings next season will be any better than the ones this year. Team’s don’t normally fire their head coach for winning too much.

People just assume if the Chargers fire Brandon Staley then Johnson could go take that job. Which would be a hell of a situation to walk into for him. But what if they get Sean Payton? Or someone else they really like. Again, it’s no guarantee.

What if the Lions offense regresses next season? Whether it’s due to injury, young players not progressing or pure dumb luck. Johnson wouldn’t be such a hot name anymore would he?

Kind of like last year when Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was a popular name. They even listed him as the Jacksonville Jaguars top candidate. Then he pulled himself out of contention and stayed in Tampa.

How’s that working for him?

Maybe he can join Kliff Kingsbury in Thailand.

If you’re a Lions fan, you don’t care. You got your OC back, and that’s all that matters. But for Ben Johnson’s sake, hopefully this doesn’t backfire.

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