Lions OC Ben Johnson was reportedly ‘turned off’ by Commanders ‘basketball guys’
For the second consecutive year, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was regarded as a hot commodity on the NFL head-coaching market but came up empty. The Washington Commanders were frequently linked to Johnson, but did the Lions coach take issue with some members of the franchise?
Johnson was “turned off” by Washington’s ownership group for being “basketball guys,” considering them too confident in their football judgment, ESPN reported Saturday.
Washington was the last team to fill its head-coaching vacancy, which was created when Ron Rivera was fired after four seasons at the helm (26-40-1 in the regular season, 0-1 in the postseason). The Commanders hired former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator and Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.
Johnson, 37, now returns to the Lions for a sixth season, including his third as offensive coordinator under head coach Dan Campbell. The now-offensive coordinator was an offensive quality control coach (2019), tight ends coach (2020-21) and passing game coordinator (2021) for Detroit before getting the full-time playcalling nod in 2022.
Prior to joining the Lions, Johnson was an offensive assistant for the Miami Dolphins from 2012-18; Johnson and Campbell were on the same coaching staff in Miami from 2012-15.
Under Johnson, the Lions have boasted one of the best offenses in the NFL. They averaged 394.8 total yards (third in the NFL) and 27.1 points (fifth) per game in the regular season, while averaging 380.0 total yards (fourth) and 26.6 points (fifth) in 2022.
Quarterback Jared Goff has experienced a career resurgence under Johnson’s playcalling, totaling 4,575 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 97.9 passer rating, while completing a career-high 67.3% of his passes this season. In 2022, Goff totaled 4,438 passing yards, 29 passing touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 99.3 passer rating, while completing 65.1% of his passes.
The Lions went 12-5 this season, winning the NFC North for the first time in franchise history. They went on to beat the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs before losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
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