If the Detroit Lions are faced with the prospect of replacing Ben Johnson, could a recently fired head coach become an option to be the new offensive coordinator?
“If ‘if’ was a fifth, we’d all be drunk.” That quote is attributed to Michael Jordan, and it has always stuck with me. So on that note, if Ben Johnson lands a head coaching job in upcoming hiring cycle, the Detroit Lions will need a new offensive coordinator.
At least one team, the Carolina Panthers, feels like a lock to interview Johnson. Getting a head coaching job after just one year as a coordinator feels unlikely, but if not this year it’s probably only a matter of time before Johnson leaves the Lions to become a head coach.
To his credit, and perhaps unexpected for some after his “knee cap biting” intro press conference, Lions head coach Dan Campbell has built a solid coaching staff around him. Many are former NFL players, like he was.
Detroit Lions: Could a recently fired head coach be an option to replace Ben Johnson?
Again, if Johnson leaves for a head coaching job, Campbell will have to replace him.
The Lions had joint practices and a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts this year. Here’s some of what Campbell said about head coach Frank Reich, upon revealing he also interviewed for the Colts job before Reich got it.
"I interviewed for the Colts job, with (GM Chris) Ballard, and certainly Frank got that job, and we talked about it. So I’ve just known him a long time, known him through the grapevine and just have a ton of respect for him.”"
As the Colts went through a dismal campaign, Reich was fired in the middle of this season. He had a 40-33-1 record over four-plus seasons as Colts’ head coach, and he may be somewhere in the mix for head coaching openings.
However, NFL reporter Benjamim Allbright has suggesed more teams may view Reich as an offensive coordinator candidate.
Justin Rogers of The Detroit News, recalling his being on the ground for those Lions-Colts joint practices, pointed to the possibility Reich gets a call from Campbell if Johnson gets a head coaching job.
Before becoming the Colts’ head coach, Reich was the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator for two seasons (2016-2017). Before that he spent three years with the San Diego Chargers, the first as quarterbacks coach and the last two as offensive coordinator. Counting his seasons in Indianapolis, including the dismal run for the Colts in 2022, Reich has run or been heavily involved in running a top-10 scoring offense in five of nine campaigns. You could say just five of eight there, leave out this year, and not be reaching.
Reich was fired not too long after getting a contract extension from the Colts. So he could choose to sit out of coaching for a year, if there’s not a job that appeals to him out there, cash big checks from Jim Irsay (if only metaphorically), then survey his options again a year from now.
But Reich landing prominently on Campbell’s list of candidates to replace Johnson would not be surprising. Should it come to that, of course.