Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson makes list of top candidates for head coaching job

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson talks with reporters before OTAs on Thursday, June 2, 2022, in Allen Park.Lions
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson talks with reporters before OTAs on Thursday, June 2, 2022, in Allen Park.Lions /

His interview schedule is filling up quickly, and Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has made a list of candidates for a job he isn’t yet lined up to interview for.

As he surfaced as a hot head coaching candidate, it’s not surprising. But as Monday went along the interview itinerary for Lions’ offensive coordinator Ben Johnson filled quickly. The Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers all submitted requests to interview him for their job openings.

It felt inevitable, but the Arizona Cardinals created the fifth head coaching opening around the league when they fired Kliff Kingsbury on Monday. A new coach will step into a roster that looks pretty thin in a lot of spots, not to mention an injured quarterback after Kyler Murray suffered a torn ACL late this season.

In a certain light, the Cardinals’ job is the least-appealing of the handful of current head coaching openings. Even if Murray were totally healthy, without a real question about his status for a solid chunk of next season, that would be true.

Ben Johnson lands high on list of candidates for Arizona Cardinals

Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports created shorts lists of “most likely” candidates for the Texans and Cardinals’ jobs. Johnson did not land on the list for Houston, but he did land on the list for Arizona–No. 3 of three listed.

"Most likely Cardinals candidates3. Ben JohnsonPosition: Lions offensive coordinator | Age: 36Reviving Murray is probably priority No. 1 inside the Cardinals organization considering how much the team has invested in the young QB. And if that’s the case, Johnson feels like a natural fit after the seamless poise he brought to Detroit’s offense in 2022, tailoring the Lions’ attack to Jared Goff’s strengths. From a cultural standpoint, Arizona is also desperate for some stability, and it can’t hurt that Johnson hails from a Detroit organization that’s grown in effort and energy under Dan Campbell."

Similar to the Denver Broncos’ job opening and likely being stuck with the shell of Russell Wilson under center, taking the Cardinals’ job comes with having to/being willing to embrace working with Murray. From this corner, going back years to when he was drafted and which has been shown since, Murray is a bad mix of low-grade intangibles and an overrated skill set. But the Cardinals committed long-term to him, and owner Michael Bidwell said Murray will have a voice in the coaching search.

Johnson does make sense as a candidate for the Cardinals, and in the coming days they may make a request to interview him. But taking said interview request is another thing, and Arizona should not be an appealing job for Johnson even if he does take a possible interview.

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