Could the Lions have their next offensive coordinator already on their coaching staff?
If they do, it's more than likely going to be the team's present tight ends coach Ben Johnson.
Johnson, who originally joined the Lions in 2019 as the organization's offensive quality control coach, served as Detroit's pseudo passing game coordinator in the latter half of the 2021 season.
He took over the role at the same time that Lions head man Dan Campbell became the offensive play-caller, effectively stripping the duties away from now departed offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.
This all came in Week 10 when Detroit took on and tied the Pittsburgh Steelers, 16-16.
The offense started to steadily improve shortly after that ugly performance, and a sizeable portion of the credit for that can be attributed to Johnson.
"Ben’s been awesome,” Lions quarterback Jared Goff said earlier this season. “Ever since I got here, he’s been one of the guys that you can kind of rely on as a good voice and understands kind of everything we’re trying to do. Since he’s been in that role, being able to lean on him and asking these questions and having him take some ownership over some stuff has been really cool. He’s a guy who’s got a lot of experience in the quarterback room and (of) applying himself back in his time. But, it’s been a lot of fun working with him.”
Johnson had a hand in some of the Lions' best play designs of the season.
For instance, in Detroit's walk-off victory against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 13, he helped produced the design for tight end Brock Wright’s touchdown early in the second quarter.
The play initially called for four vertical routes out of a two-tight end and two-running back set. However, Johnson brought up the idea of motioning fullback Jason Cabinda out of the backfield and along with other Detroit offensive assistants, suggested motioning guard Jonah Jackson in the same direction.
It led to Minnesota’s defense being caught off guard, allowing Goff to connect with Wright for the TD pass.
It became more and more apparent as the season progressed that Campbell and Johnson were working hand in hand and had developed a significant amount of chemistry with one another.
So, it seems like Johnson would be the easy internal choice for offensive coordinator.
Yet, just because it'd be easy to promote him to the position, it doesn't mean that it would be the right decision.
Johnson has never served as an offensive coordinator in his assistant coaching career, which also includes a three-season stint with Boston College and a seven-year stint with the Miami Dolphins.
I, for one, would opt for a play-caller with more experience, especially for a predominantly young and inexperienced offensive core in Detroit.
It's why I would pass on Johnson -- maybe officially give him the title of passing game coordinator -- and go outside the organization to tap a proven commodity to be the Lions' next offensive coordinator.