3. Lions quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell
Another internal candidate, Brunell would be a step above Engstrand in terms of a more direct relationship with quarterback Jared Goff built over the last two seasons. If we’ve learned anything this year, however obvious it is, it’s how Johnson’s concerted effort to build his relationship with Goff has paid off after it appeared Goff and Anthony Lynn never really connected in 2021.
Prior to joining Dan Campbell’s staff in Detroit, Brunell was a high school head coach from 2013-2020. But what he lacks in higher-level coaching experience he more than makes up for with his experience as a player.
Brunell started 151 regular season games over 16 NFL seasons, mostly with the Jacksonville Jaguars over nine seasons there. He started 10 playoff games in his career, including an AFC Championship Game.
There’s no substitute for the perspective gained from playing experience, as long as a coach can translate it to coaching acumen. If Goff is going to be the Lions’ quarterback in 2023, or even beyond, Brunell would naturally be in the conversation to step into the offensive coordinator spot if Johnson leaves.