5 dark horse candidates to replace Ben Johnson as Detroit Lions offensive coordinator

  • Ben Johnson looks like a lock to leave for a head coaching job
  • So who are some dark horse candidates to replace him as Detroit Lions offensive coordinator?

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4. Alex Van Pelt, former Browns offensive coordinator

Despite having five starting quarterbacks this season, and losing stud running back Nick Chubb for the season in Week 2, the Browns still had the 10th-best scoring offense in the NFL during the regular season (23.3 points per game. But that was not enough to save Van Pelt's job, as head coach Kevin Stefanski made some changes to his offensive staff.

Van Pelt has a total of five seasons as an offensive coordinator on his resume, one with the Buffalo Bills (2009) and the last four in Cleveland. In between and around those stints he has been a quarterbacks coach for the Bills, Buccaneers, Packers and Bengals, with two years as the running backs coach for the Packers too.

In those five total seasons as an offensive coordinator, Van Pelt has helmed an offense that was either top-10 in rushing attempts or rushing yardage four times (all four in Cleveland, both three times in a row from 2020-2022). That alone meshes well with what Dan Campbell wants to do offensively, and in Detroit Van Pelt would have a chance to stretch his creativity with a set of weapons like he has never had before.

The Raiders have interviewed Van Pelt for their offensive coordinator opening, but that's his only interview to this point.

If the Lions have to replace Johnson, Van Pelt could be somewhere on the list of candidates.

Update, Feb. 2: Van Pelt has been hired as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.