Lions OC Ben Johnson Will Remain with Team

Detroit Lions OC Ben Johnson
Detroit Lions OC Ben Johnson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Divisional - Detroit Lions offensive coordinator has told interested teams that he will return to Detroit next season, according to a report from NFL Network's Tom Pelissero

Brought on as an offensive quality coach in 2019. Johnson took over as the tight ends coach in 2020 before accepting the job for offensive coordinator in 2022. In one season, the Lions jumped from 29th to fifth in offensive DVOA year-over-year.

Johnson was set to travel Wednesday for an interview with the Carolina Panthers. He also had a previous head coaching interview with the Indianapolis Colts. 


24 comments, Last at 19 Jan 2023, 2:52pm

#1 by Ben // Jan 18, 2023 - 8:15am

Damn. I was hoping that’s who’d the Colts would go with. 

Points: 0

#2 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 9:08am

Finally, something goes right.

Points: 3

#3 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 18, 2023 - 9:19am

Good coaches turning down higher pay and prestige, because they actually want to stay with the Lions?  Be still my beating heart.

Points: 6

#5 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:06am

Alternatively, they wanted no part of the shitshows in Indy and Charlotte.

Points: 4

#9 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:38am

Or Houston.  Panthers roster is actually pretty decent, though, and whatever front office shenanigans they had pale in comparison to some of the other franchises.

Whatever his reasons are, this is great news for Goff’s (and by extension, the team’s) 2023 outlook.  He’ll still regress, but will regress a lot less than I would have predicted had Johnson left.

Points: 1

#17 by Crestant1 // Jan 18, 2023 - 9:12pm

Not too sure what you mean by "regress" but at the end of the day the person throwing ball, making the reads and doing all that with one of the worst pass blocking RG's in the league for half the year is Jared Goff. There won't be much if any turnover next year offensively so I highly doubt we'll be seeing any "regression" from a guy who was top 6 in the league statistically. 

Points: 1

#18 by Crestant1 // Jan 18, 2023 - 9:12pm

Not too sure what you mean by "regress" but at the end of the day the person throwing ball, making the reads and doing all that with one of the worst pass blocking RG's in the league for half the year is Jared Goff. There won't be much if any turnover next year offensively so I highly doubt we'll be seeing any "regression" from a guy who was top 6 in the league statistically. 

Points: 0

#20 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 19, 2023 - 8:56am

"Regression" doesn't mean "going to suck", it just means, "maybe not quite reach the previous high"

Goff was 2nd in DYAR this year.  If you're counting on him to repeat that performance, go ahead, but history says it's unlikely unless you're a Mahomes/Brees/Brady/Rodgers-type (we're talking in their primes for the latter 3).  Goff is better than people thought coming into the year, but he's not at that level.  It's very likely he won't finish 2nd again.  If he regresses to 9th or 10th, I'm sure the Lions would still be pretty happy with that.   But it wouldn't completely shock me if he ended up in the 12 to 18 range.  His prior 3 years, his ranks were 15th, 20th, 20th.  

Now, you can say his prior 3 years he didn't have the benefit of playing under Ben Johnson (but he did play under McVay the previous 2), which was the whole point of my post.  It's good for him that Johnson is staying.  That makes it more likely he'll regress a little, but stay in the top 10, rather than sliding further down the rankings with a new OC.

Points: 0

#21 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 19, 2023 - 10:14am

He's been good IFF the line and St. Brown have been healthy.

But it's not a coincidence they went 8-1 in games in which they avoided a turnover and 1-7 in any game in which they did turn it over. (0-6 if they lost TO margin, 8-1 if they won TO margin, 1-1 if they tied) They were operating on razor-thin margins. The one game that went off-script was Miami, where Detroit's last drive was a failed 4th-1 at the Miami 35, trailing 31-27. Like I said, they operate on the razor's edge.

Any TO regression by either Goff or the ball carriers means the Lions lose those close games unless their defense gets a lot better. They had the fewest TOs and 2nd-fewest INTs this year, and were first in per-play rate by miles -- they ran 24% more plays than NYG and had a 12% lower TO rate than SF.

They were sneakily good on special teams. They scored on a ton of drives even though their conversion rates weren't all that high. But that was a product of never turning it over, having good starting field position, going for a ton of 4th downs, and being really good in the red zone.

But I worry their scoring success was based on unsustainable red zone success and turnover avoidance. If those slip, and they become a middle-of-the-pack offense, their defense can't keep them in games.

Points: 0

#23 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 19, 2023 - 12:39pm

That's exactly my concern.  They're probably going to be preseason darlings next season, but if the defense doesn't improve significantly, they're going to be in trouble when some of their turnover luck and unsustainable red zone success dries up.

Points: 0

#24 by Crestant1 // Jan 19, 2023 - 2:51pm

Hmm, I understand your point. Though I don't use just statistics as a form of regression I like using tape, the overall ability of the Quarterback to make the right reads and throws and compare that to the play calling and weapons and strength of competition. It's essentially like saying Patrick Mahomes "regressed" in 2021 when in reality Patrick Mahomes the quarterback was still elite, and his overall ability hadn't really changed. Best way to use statistics is just a way to enhance your points and further validate what you're seeing on tape.

Personally I don't really see Jared Goff the quarterback regressing, even if technically statistically he may. If anything I expect to see even more improvement from this season, as we saw a huge step in the right direction in terms of his progressions, stepping up in the pocket/side stepping and throwing in the face of pressure, and his overall chemistry with all his receivers. 

Ironically though, this was the type of stuff he was doing in previous years, he's just doing it more consistently now. Consistency is the difference between Jared Goff being a step below that elite category or reverting to mediocrity. As you said it's great that he's able to retain the OC he developed a great connection and understanding with and it'll only continue to help him improve his ability as a quarterback.

Considering the little to no turnover all across the board, and the potential for a healthy Frank Ragnow and full off season with Jameson Williams, I would actually be shocked to see him outside the top 12 statistically. 

Points: 0

#12 by KnotMe // Jan 18, 2023 - 1:18pm

That would explain the photo. This is Dan Campbell's "target cam". 

Points: 10

#4 by BlueStarDude // Jan 18, 2023 - 9:20am

Wow, what's really surprising is he didn't even take the interviews. Dan Campbell magic.

Points: 3

#6 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:21am

Is the picture cropping out their heads on anyone else's screen? Weird

Points: 2

#8 by KnotMe // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:24am

I think it's taken that way. Dunno WHY you take a picture like that unless the photographer has some weird fetish for like legs or something), but I guess that USA Today Sports Images service didn't have any other photos of him. 

Points: 1

#7 by KnotMe // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:21am

Colts (and Panthers) arn't appealing jobs. There arn't really any appealing openings this year (unless Staley gets fired which seems unlikely). 

Points: 0

#14 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 18, 2023 - 2:47pm

The Houston job comes with a top 2 pick in a multi-QB draft and a huge chunk of cap space, plus two of the teams in your division are likely heading to rebuild town. If I was convinced I could deal with Easterby's BS (and NFL coaches have nothing if not overconfidence), then it seems like the best job on paper.

Points: 0

#15 by Shylo // Jan 18, 2023 - 3:31pm

You don't even have to deal with Easterby's BS, he was fired this season. You do have to deal with Cal McNair though.

Points: 2

#16 by KnotMe // Jan 18, 2023 - 3:54pm

That and...the cupboard is pretty bare. Plenty of teams have proven that giving a HC a long contract isn't any guarantee of a long leash. You get a clean slate, but maybe not the time to cover it. 

Points: 1

#22 by BigRichie // Jan 19, 2023 - 11:42am

Yeah, plenty of times a long term contract has only meant you leave with a few more $$$ when they fire your heinie after Year 3.

Points: 0

#19 by Sixknots // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:06pm

Yes, the Houston job comes with the 2nd pick in the 2023 draft.  And the 12th pick.  And the 34th pick.  Plus picks 66, 74, 104, 137, 188, 201, 203, 206, and 239!

+ The Brown's 1st  round 2024 pick and more!

Points: 2

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