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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1. Pete Carmichael, former Saints offensive coordinator

Carmichael was on the New Orleans Saints' coaching staff from 2006-2023, going from quarterbacks coach (2006) to quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator (2007-2008) to offensive coordinator (2009-2023).

The Saints were a top-10 yardage offense for 11 straight seasons with Carmichael as the coordinator (2009-2019). But as expected the quarterback situation had a drop-off after Drew Brees retired, and the last two years with Carmichael as the play-caller after Sean Payton left weren't as good. This year New Orleans was a top-10 scoring offense (No. 9), despite quarterback Derek Carr's up and downs, and they finished 14th in total offense-their best mark there over the last three years.

Of course Carmichael's lengthy tenure in New Orleans, as an original member of Payton's staff who remained when Dennis Allen became head coach in 2022, means he overlapped with Lions' head coach Dan Campbell for the entire time Campbell was the Saints' tight ends coach.

The Saints' offense was naturally pass-heavy when Brees was at his peak. But over the last four seasons, they were top-10 in rushing attempts three times. So Carmichael seems to align very well with Campbell's preference to run the ball, besides the two being plenty familiar with each other to further drive the potential fit.

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