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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3. Frank Reich, former Panthers and Colts head coach

Reich did not last one season as the Carolina Panthers head coach, after being fired by the Indianapolis Colts midway through the 2022 season. That gives him the unique distinction in NFL history as the first coach be fired in-season in back-to-back seasons since the 1970 merger.

But Reich has a solid history on the offensive side of the ball, with two years as the Chargers offensive coordinator and two years in the same job with the Eagles before his run as the head coach in Indianapolis. The struggles of the last two years for his offenses is rooted in talent deficiencies more than anything else.

The Lions had joint practices against the Colts during 2022 training camp, and Dan Campbell talked about his relationship with Reich.

"I just know him through the league man,” “When I had the chance to re-interview or interview for the head job in Miami full time, he was one of the first guys who called, he was with the Chargers. Things had kind of transpired out there for them. He had the number one offense, but wasn’t able to keep the job. So, shoot, I called him, we talked for a long time. I just knew from afar, I had a lot of respect they did, what they ran. Then we’ve just kind of talked throughout the years."

Reich has sort of surfaced as a candidate to go back to Philadelphia as the offensive coordinator, with nothing firm to show head coach Nick Sirianni is considering it to this point.

Talent is not a problem for the Lions on the offensive side of the ball, and it's clear Campbell has a lot of respect for Reich. He wouldn't be an exciting hire for fans, but Reich's stock as a football coach should not be completely diminished by what was a dysfunctional situation in Carolina this season.