Lions' Ben Johnson spurns head coaching opportunities to remain in Detroit: report

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Ben Johnson, one of the most sought-after candidates this coaching cycle, reportedly informed the two remaining teams with a head coaching vacancy he intends to withdraw his name from consideration.

Johnson had at least one interview with the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders earlier this month, the NFL Network reported.

Johnson recently finished his second season as the Detroit Lions’ offensive coordinator. The 37-year-old assistant coach was the architect of one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2023. 

Quarterback Jared Goff, the top selection of the 2016 NFL Draft, had arguably two of the best seasons of his career with Johnson’s guidance.

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Ben Johnson, offensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions, during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field Sept. 24, 2023, in Detroit. (Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

Sources told NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero Johnson was scheduled to meet with the Seahawks and the Commanders this week, but the play-caller no longer plans to pursue either job.

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The Lions have averaged the fourth most points per game since Johnson was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2022. He served as the team’s pass game coordinator in 2021. Detroit’s 387.4 yards per game was the best in the NFL.

Rookies Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta thrived in their first season in Johnson’s offense. Both players received Rookie of the Year consideration. Johnson successfully deployed creative plays throughout the season, and four Lions players finished the year with 500 or more yards from scrimmage.

Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson talks with Dan Campbell

Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and head coach Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions prior to a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field Dec. 10, 2023, in Chicago. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Third-year wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown ended the 2023 campaign with a career-best 1,515 receiving yards. 

Goff threw for 9,013 yards over the past two seasons. He also has the league’s second-best pass TD-interception ratio since 2022.

Johnson will likely be a highly sought-after head coaching candidate in the 2025 cycle. But his decision to remain in Detroit allows the Lions to focus on other offseason priorities instead of worrying about filling a huge hole in the coaching staff.

After a couple of thrilling home playoff victories, the third-seeded Detroit Lions traveled to California over the weekend to take on the top-seeded 49ers in the NFC championship game. The Lions were hoping to earn the franchise’s first trip to the Super Bowl but came up short. 

Ben Johnson and Jared Goff talk on the sideline

Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and Jared Goff (16) of the Detroit Lions speak on the field prior to a game against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field Nov. 23, 2023, in Detroit.  (Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

After leading 24-7 at the half, Detroit could only produce seven points in the second half as the Niners mounted a furious comeback for a 34-31 victory. Lions head coach Dan Campbell faced a wave of criticism for his fourth down decision-making in the NFC title game.

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However, multiple Lions players, including veteran running back David Montgomery, came to the coach’s defense.

“Like I say every time I get asked that question. Dan is the best coach in the league,” Montgomery said when asked about the decisions, via The Detroit News. “Every call that he makes, we trust and we’re behind him. Every call that he’s made is the right call.”

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