The Lions are fortunate to still have offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, and former Lion T.J. Hockenson was captured saying as much at the Pro Bowl.
It’s fair to say T.J. Hockenson was ultimately not surprised he was traded by the Detroit Lions, given the team’s record at the time and the stalling of long-term contract talks. He certainly drew the ire of Lions fans when he made some comments about not being used to winning when he was introduced as a Minnesota Viking.
Hockenson made the Pro Bowl this season, joining four of his former teammates who eventually made the trip too. A couple scenes from the Pro Bowl Games showed Hockenson still has a solid relationship with his former teammates.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff was mic’ed up at the Pro Bowl. A conversation with Hockenson was captured as part of the video posted to YouTube by the team.
T.J. Hockenson fully backs up Jared Goff’s sentiment about Lions keeping Ben Johnson
Goff made it abundantly clear how huge it is that offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will be back with the Lions next season. Hockenson said the same when Goff was mic’ed up in Las Vegas.
"Hockenson: “I love Detroit.”Goff: “Of course.”Hockenson: “I got drafted there. That meant a lot to me.”Hockenson: “Keeping [Lions OC] Ben [Johnson] was huge for you guys.Goff: “Huge.”Hockenson: “Dude.”Hockenson: “He’s a great dude, man. I love him.”"
Johnson was Hockenson’s position coach for two season before becoming the Lions’ offensive coordinator last year. So the sentiment from Hockenson is not surprising, and after he was traded Johnson talked about the relationship (h/t to Pride of Detroit).
"On a personal level it hits close to home because I’ve been here three and a half years now and he’s probably the one guy, one player I’ve gotten closest with,” “Just being able to coach him, hands-on with him, spend the most time with him over the course of the last few years. So, it hits home because you get close with these guys. But I do wish him the best, he’s going to a great situation. We’ll miss him, there’s no question.”"
Johnson may only have one more season as Lions’ offensive coordinator before he gets a head coaching job. But everyone, even players not on the team anymore, know how big it is that he’s back to run the offense in 2023.