3. Failure to fully flesh out opportunities this year
Johnson interviewed with the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, and it feels certain the Arizona Cardinals would have put in a request to interview him if they had general manager Monti Ossenfort hired two or three days sooner. There was buzz about him as the top candidate for the Panthers job, and he may well have been offered it eventually.
But being offered a job doesn’t mean you have to take it. The Panthers have not yet completed their head coaching search, due to a delay in the interview process out of respect for a tragedy with the MLS team in Charlotte that David Tepper also owns.
There was truly no harm in taking the interview with the Panthers. Unless Johnson was somehow afraid Tepper would make him an offer he couldn’t have refused, when in his heart he wanted to stay with the Lions. From the 10,000-foot view, and without knowing at all, it feels like interviews with the Texans and the Colts turned Johnson off continuing with any more head coaching interviews this year. In some sense, that would be understandable.
But sometimes, going completely through a process is helpful. Johnson could have benefited from doing all three of his initially scheduled head coaching interviews this year.
It’s fair to wonder if bailing on the Panthers’ interview the day before (per when the report came out) will be a bad look which follows him as a candidate moving forward. It’s not to the level of Josh McDaniels bailing on the Colts the day of the intro press conference, but it’s hard to spin it positively for Johnson.