Ben Johnson is in line for some head coaching interviews, and he has indeed made a list of potential candidates for the Carolina Panthers.
With the suggestion from Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network the Carolina Panthers would interview “all of the rising offensive gurus” for their head coaching opening, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson seemed to easily qualify under that umbrella.
The one potential negative on Johnson is this being his first year as a coordinator and play caller, and the step from running an offense to running the whole operation so quickly. But he will certainly get interviews, if he’s willing to take them (he would not have to be, of course).
Over at The Athletic Jeff Howe and Joe Person (subscription required), the latter being the Panthers’ beat writer for the site, tapped into fans’ response then shaped a list of viable candidates to permanently replace Matt Rhule as Panthers’ head coach. Interim head coach Steve Wilks, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and former Saints head coach Sean Payton made list, however naturally.
Johnson also made the list of eight options.
Is Ben Johnson a top candidate for the Carolina Panthers job?
Credit to SI.com for the quotes from Person and Howe’s piece.
"The rapid-rising offensive coordinator has led the Lions to the fifth-most points in the league this season and resurrected quarterback Jared Goff’s career. If you want to know how valued Johnson has become, just look at the way Lions fans respond on Twitter anytime he’s mentioned as a head coaching candidate,” writer Jeff Howe explained. “The 36-year-old hasn’t previously interviewed for top jobs, so he’s a little green. If the Panthers want an experienced candidate, Johnson probably won’t get a long look. But they should talk to Johnson and figure out for themselves if they believe he’s ready.”"
Howe’s mention of Lions’ fans response to Johnson being mentioned as a head coaching candidate matches our own experience here at SideLion Report. Indeed, as he would with any opening, Johnson will fall down (if not all the way off) the list of candidates for the Panthers if they prioritize experienced options. But talking to him, as suggested by Howe, should not be out of the realm for the Panthers or any other team with an opening.
This isn’t the first list of head coaching candidates Johnson has made, and it won’t be the last as we approach Week 18 and “Black Monday” next Monday.