It felt like a guarantee that Ben Johnson would part ways with the Detroit Lions in order to take a head coaching gig elsewhere. Since the teams devastating loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the conference championship, Johnson has changed his stance on the matter. He’s since informed Detroit and any interested teams that he won’t be leaving in the offseason and will call plays for the Lions in 2024.
Washington was the team that was consistently linked with Johnson since the regular season ended. They were reportedly in love with him after their interview and had their sights locked in on him. Even over other available candidates such as Mike Vrabel, Pete Carroll, and Bill Belichick. Johnson let Washington know that he was sticking around in Detroit, while their upper management was on a flight to meet with him for another interview as well. The only reason they didn’t completely turn the plane around was because they happened to be meeting with the Lions defensive coordinator as well, Aaron Glenn.
There are only two head coaching openings around the league at this point in time, but both of them were heavily considering hiring Ben Johnson. The Washington Commanders were one team that felt like they were waiting for the Lions season to finish, so that they could hire him. The wait put them out of contention for a few other hired candidates, but there’s so much coaching talent still out there for them to get. Outside of the Commanders, the Seattle Seahawks have been patient with their head coaching search.
The reason many other teams wanted Johnson to be their head coach was because of the job he’s done with the Lions. Since he’s taken over as their offensive coordinator, the team has ranked fourth in points per game, first in yards per contest, and fifth in yards per play. Considering how consistently underwhelming the Lions were in the past decade, this was no easy task. The teams that are in the coaching market were hoping to get the juice flowing in their offense again, and Johnson could have brought exactly that.
There’s no doubt that Johnson will be sought after for a third straight season by the time the next offseason comes around. Detroit is anticipated to be a strong offense again next season, and many won’t forget what Johnson has been able to do. The biggest question is what head coaching options will even be available at this point next season, with so many teams switching head coaches this year.
Washington and Seattle will turn their focus on the remaining candidates now. With the Houston Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik also returning to his team in 2024. That leaves the aforementioned big names such as Carroll, Belichick, and Vrabel. Although Carroll won’t be in contention for that Seahawks job considering he just lost it. It’ll be very interesting to watch where those two teams take their head coaching searches, and when they might pull the trigger on a hiring.