Ben Johnson staying with the Lions is a wise decision

Must read

During Dan Campbell’s pensive postgame press conference following the Detroit Lions NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers, he acknowledged the possibility that they might have blown their best chance at a Super Bowl. A reason for him acknowledging that less-than-deal possibility is that offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was a hot head-coaching candidate. Him leaving would be a significant brain drain from the staff. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that Johnson will remain with the Lions for the 2024 season as their offensive coordinator.

Which NFL team had the most improbable Super Bowl win?

The prevailing thought was that Johnson was going to become the new head coach of the Washington Commanders. He had already interviewed with them during the postseason and they were scheduled to meet with him again this week. However, during a Monday appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, Schefter said, “I’m not convinced that Ben Johnson’s getting the Commanders job.” On Tuesday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reemphasized previous points that he had made about Johnson not being a lock to become Washington’s next head coach.

There are currently only two remaining NFL head coaching vacancies, the Commanders and the Seattle Seahawks. Both teams have potential, but there was no reason for Johnson to leave a great situation to be in charge of a good one.

Generally, when people have the opportunity to move up in their careers, they jump on it. More money, better title, greater responsibility, where is the downside in any of that? In fact, thinking that there might be one could be considered a lack of ambition, confidence, or both. A person’s career could permanently stall by refusing a position with more perceived prestige.

The NFL is not like most industries. First-time head coach disasters have a hard time climbing back into that role. Then again, moving from coordinator to head coach is a massive pay raise and there are only 32 of those jobs. Even if fired after two 4-13 seasons, head coach stays on a resume forever.

While people are programmed to move full speed ahead at all times when it comes to career advancement, there are times when it is better to remain in a solid position and wait for an ideal offer.

Johnson has been an outstanding offensive coordinator for the Lions. Their offense has been humming like the engine on a new Porsche since he became coordinator in 2022. He has Jared Goff playing like it’s 2018. Also, the Lions running game averaged the fifth most yards per carry for the 2023 season.

The roster is going to look largely the same on offense next season. According to Jason Fitzgerald at Over the Cap, the Lions are projected to have nearly $50 million in cap space next season. Goff, Amon Ra St. Brown and Penei Sewell have only a year left on their deals, so extensions for them are likely in the works. Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta will be on the second year of their rookie contracts, Jameson Williams will be on his third. David Montgomery is in the middle of a three-year deal that he signed last offseason. Also, Johnson got a raise last season when he returned to the team.

All of the players are going to become even more comfortable in Johnson’s system in 2024. As the NFC North improves, their continuity should be able to keep them at the top. A division title and a home playoff game are near certainties for the Lions. The closest the Commanders and Seahawks will come to seeing those accomplishments is on a vision board next season.

Johnson has a great thing going in Detroit. CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reported in late December that some team owners had been informed that his asking price was in the neighborhood of 15 million per year. Schefter reported on Tuesday that salary demands “spooked some teams,” and also that Johnson informed the Commanders of his decision to stay put as they were flying out to interview him and Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

However Johnson reached the decision to stay with the Lions, he made the right one. He is in a great situation. There is no rush to take a better role with less talented personnel. When life is rolling, sometimes it is alright to put the career on cruise control for a little while. By Johnson coming back, the Lions now have their best chance to win a championship. Super Bowl champion offensive coordinator for the Lions might be the sweetener to Johnson’s resume that gets him whatever he wants in 2025.

More articles

Latest article