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Will Ben Johnson be an NFL head coach in 2023?

We discuss whether an NFL team will hire Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and which opening fits him best.

Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has spearheaded one of the league’s breakout offenses this season, and it has resulted in the Lions competing for playoff contention. Breakout seasons do not go unnoticed, and it may be possible that Johnson draws some early head coaching buzz this offseason.

Who is Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson?

Johnson is a former player and coach who got his first stint as a graduate assistant with Boston College back in 2009. After transitioning to the NFL as an offensive assistant with the Miami Dolphins in 2012, Johnson worked his way up the ranks, serving as an assistant quarterbacks coach, tight ends coach, and wide receivers coach through 2018 with the Dolphins. Eventually, he made his way to the Lions as an offensive quality control coach in 2019.

Since arriving in Detroit, Johnson has been promoted to be the tight ends coach and eventual passing game coordinator, as then offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn saw his role decrease. For the 2022-2023 season, Johnson was promoted to become the offensive coordinator for the Lions.

Why would he make a good head coach?

The Lions' rebuild has arguably been ahead of schedule, as Detroit finished the season with a 9-8 record. Much of their success has been a result of a high-octane offense, as Detroit is ranked fifth in points per game and eighth in passing yards per game. Despite being traded away and essentially cast off from the Rams, Jared Goff has thrived with Johnson as his offensive coordinator. Heading into Week 18, the former number-one overall pick ranks sixth in passing yards and fourth in passing touchdowns.

In a league that is evolving toward offense and spearheading a passing game that stretches the field, it’s no wonder why Johnson could draw some consideration for a head coaching position. Perhaps he’ll need another season as an offensive coordinator to justify a hire, but teams with young quarterbacks are always on the search for the next offensive guru. With the Lions' legitimate success this season, Johnson’s impact on the offense has not gone unnoticed.

Which teams are interviewing him?

Houston Texans

Update 1/12- Johnson officially interviewed for the Texans’ coaching vacancy on Thursday. It would make sense for Houston to go after the Lions’ offensive coordinator considering how well their rebuild has gone and the offense he was able to scheme up with the likes of Jamaal Williams and Jared Goff leading the charge offers hope.

On Johnson’s end, an opportunity to jump into an NFL head coaching gig would be too good to pass up but the Houston job would come with major warning signs. He would be the fourth head coach in four years and the team has needs all over the field. It would be a tall order to get this rebuild off the ground and he may want to consider waiting for a better opportunity if he can.

Update, 1/17- While Johnson was one of the hottest coaching candidates on the market, the Lions' offensive coordinator is staying in Detroit as the offensive coordinator next season, according to NFL Media.