June 23, 2024

Lions’ Ben Johnson reveals why he didn’t pursue head coaching jobs this offseason despite significant interest


After the Detroit Lions enjoyed their most successful season in decades in 2023, it felt inevitable that the organization would lose one of its top assets in offensive coordinator Ben Johnson this offseason. The 38-year-old was among the hottest head-coaching candidates in the league coming into this latest hiring cycle thanks to the work that he was able to do with the Lions offense over the past few years, and it seemed like he’d have his pick of the litter of jobs. 

Despite talking to the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders, Johnson elected to pull himself out of the running for those jobs and remain with the Lions as their OC for 2024. 

“When it boils down to it, I wanted the sunshine a bit longer,” Johnson told reporters from Lions OTAs, referencing his desire to continue building with Detroit. “That’s really what it comes down to for me. I like the sunshine. I like what we’ve built here starting with ownership, the head coach, the GM on down. We have a great group of guys in the locker room and I want to reap the rewards with them a little bit longer.” 

On top of wanting to help push the Lions over the top, Johnson was candid about the realities of becoming of head coach in the NFL and the short shelf life that most have. 

“Something that really resonates with me is … Okay, eight openings this past year. What would set the over/under in three years? How many still have jobs?” he asked. “Shoot, I’d put the over/under at 4.5. I would say there’s a good chance five of them are out of jobs in three years. 

“When I look at it from that perspective, if I get the opportunity to go down that road it’s about how do I get to that second contract. How do I set myself up? The stars need to align. I’m not going to do it just to do it. I love what I’m doing right now. Love it. I love where I’m at. My family loves where we’re at. Love the people that we’re doing it with. So, I’m not willing to go down the other path yet unless I feel really good about how it’s going to unfold.” 

So what would be the ideal circumstance for Johnson to make the leap?

“It’s ownership, it’s staff, it’s my vision of how I can make it work with how I know I am,” he said. “Part of me, I love play-calling. If I took a head coaching job, I would want to be a play-calling head coach. Well, there’s a limit to how much time there is during a week so what’s it going to look like Monday through Sunday in that regard? Just want to make sure everything’s nailed down. Listen, there’s an adjustment period for every person that takes that job.” 

Johnson also added that the longer he stays in the coordinator role, he believes it’ll help him whenever he makes that transition to becoming a head coach, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that came as soon as next offseason if the right situation comes along.





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