At the end of every NFL regular season there’s always a few vacancies for Head Coaches to replace those on teams who failed to reach expectations. To fill these vacancies the current crop of hot shot coordinators gets scoured for the next one to step up and take on the dream challenge of leading an NFL franchise to the promise land. Quite often upcoming teams like the Detroit Lions will have one or two high performers, typically the darlings of sports writers’ scrolls, being considered as most desirable.
After the 2021 season Lions’ Defensive Coordinator Aaron Glen was the talked about candidate. With the wrap up of regular season 2022 Ben Johnson the mastermind behind the team’s high-powered offense is the favorite son.
For the most part it’s every coordinator’s dream to make that big step up to taking the reigns of the coaching staff of a team in need of fresh new direction. Johnson is no different, but is this really a good time for him to reach out for the brass ring? Let’s look at some factors that might have Ben Johnson stepping away from the perfect coaches’ environment of the Detroit Lions into the kind of hell hole dysfunctional franchise situation that often derails the careers of would-be leaders of the gridiron.
- Lack of experience: Although Johnson is following the route of most soon to be head coaches, he hasn’t spent a significant amount of time on the ladder. One of the hold overs from the Matt Patricia debacle he’s just now getting a taste of how a winning operation works. Sure, he’s obviously brilliant, but even Dan Campbell’s Brand New Lions are just now learning how to win consistently. Even though they were a playoff contender the fact remains that this team finished barely over .500 benefitting from a season where all, but the very top teams had trouble putting together impressive records. Has he overcome enough adversity for a strong skillset at resurrecting failing teams?
- Teams in need are franchises in disarray: Let’s face it, even Lions fans are still getting used to a fully supportive ownership with an extra competitive desire to win in this league. The current teams in need of head coaches are practically hostile environments for any new coach experienced or not. Houston has a history of ruining every bright coordinator’s first head coaching job tenure. There’s a reason why even experienced coaches with winning pedigrees have failed to survive with that team. Simply stated, “it’s a trap.” He best use that interview for research and study purposes. Some of the other teams barely have solid GM’s in place.
- He’s very young: As of late very young head coaches are becoming commonplace in the NFL. Most have done well, but they always face the battle of winning the respect of veteran players. Considering Johnson’s overall lack of experience with winning organizations in the league he’s potentially going into some big ego battles. To his credit he seems to be able to connect well with his players. That’s going to be an advantage, but will it be enough?
I’m really just guessing here, but Johnson may only be using these opportunities to learn the interviewing process for head coach in the NFL and will only give in to the very best ideal offer, if he receives any. It’s protocol for teams in need to request permission to interview other team’s staff. Being on the short list of candidates doesn’t guarantee him an offer.
Regardless, in the end we can only cheer for Ben Johnson and hope the best for him and his career as a coach in the National Football League. Whatever may come of these opportunities he must do what’s best for him and his family.
P.S. Yes, I’m biased and don’t want to lose him to another team before he helps our Brand New Detroit Lions win the Super Bowl.