Lions' Ben Johnson Explains Decision Not to Seek Head Coaching Roles

Exploring Ben Johnson's Strategic Career Choices in the NFL.

by Nouman Rasool
Lions' Ben Johnson Explains Decision Not to Seek Head Coaching Roles
© Michael Reaves/Getty Images

After a standout season with the Detroit Lions in 2023, Ben Johnson, the team's esteemed offensive coordinator, faced widespread speculation about his potential departure for a head coaching position. Johnson, 38, emerged as a leading candidate in the NFL's head coaching carousel after significantly boosting the Lions' offensive performance over recent years.

His expertise sparked interest from several teams, most notably the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders. However, Johnson surprised many by opting to stay with the Lions for the 2024 season. During a press session at the Lions' Organized Team Activities (OTAs), he shared his reasons for not pursuing head coaching opportunities.

"When it boils down to it, I wanted the sunshine a bit longer," Johnson remarked, expressing his contentment with the team's progress and his role within the organization. He highlighted the positive dynamics starting from the ownership down to the players, emphasizing the strong bonds formed and his desire to enjoy the fruits of their collective labor.

NFL Head Coaching Instability

Johnson candidly discussed the transient nature of NFL head coaching roles, pointing out the instability and high turnover rates. "Okay, eight openings this past year. What would set the over/under in three years? How many still have jobs?" he questioned, estimating that fewer than half might remain in their positions.

This perspective plays a significant role in his decision-making, focusing on the long-term stability and success in his current role rather than the uncertainties of head coaching. For Johnson, the ideal scenario to consider a head coaching role involves a confluence of favorable conditions including ownership support, a compatible staff, and alignment with his personal coaching philosophy.

He values his current responsibility as a play-caller and is cautious about the extensive commitments a head coaching position entails. "There's a limit to how much time there is during a week, so what's it going to look like Monday through Sunday?" Johnson pondered, underscoring the need for a well-structured environment.

Remaining as the Lions' offensive coordinator, Johnson believes, will better prepare him for any future transition to head coaching. He hinted that the right opportunity could potentially lure him away as soon as the next offseason, provided it meets his stringent criteria for a conducive and promising coaching environment.

In the meantime, Johnson remains focused on advancing the Lions' prospects and savoring the success they are building together.