After a good run as passing game coordinator late in the 2021 season, it was a foregone conclusion Ben Johnson would become the Detroit Lions' offensive coordinator last year. Then the question became if he or head coach Dan Campbell would call the plays, and Johnson got the duties.
Things could not have gone much better last season. The Lions had a top-tier offense in the league by total yardage and points, with a league-low 15 turnovers. Johnson showed creativity and guts as a play caller, often in critical situations. If he had wanted a head coaching job this offseason, he probably could have gotten one. But he chose to stay with the Lions, for at least one more year anyway. It's a matter of time before he's a head coach.
The challenge for Johnson will be to find ways to keep the Lions' offense among the best in the NFL this year. It seems like he'll be up to that challenge though.
Is Ben Johnson the best offensive coordinator in the NFL?
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus has ranked his top-10 offensive coordinators in the NFL entering the 2023 season. Johnson sits at No. 1.
"Detroit’s Ben Johnson is doing such a good job with the Lions that he has people believing in Jared Goff again. A quarterback whose salary dump was once used as a makeweight for a first-round pick in a trade is all of a sudden putting up elite-looking numbers, but his PFF grade — a throw-by-throw accounting of his individual performance — remains very close to his career baseline. That difference highlights Johnson's performance as the play caller.- Sam Monson, Pro Football Focus
Johnson consistently seemed to be one step ahead of opposing defensive coordinators last season. And with more weaponry added to the offense this year, he could be in line for even better things in 2023. With any kind of repeat performance, he will likely be in a head coaching job this time next year."
Here's the rest of the list.
Of note on the list is former Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who is back in the job for the Indianapolis Colts after being passing game coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars last year. His inclusion at No. 9 stands to devalue the entire list for a strong segment of Lions' fans.
Johnson's work resurrecting Goff, and the overall results for an offense that lacked a lot of high-end weapons last year, obviously boosted his standing here. It can be debated if he deserves the top spot on this list, or any others like it, but he is absolutely one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL right now.