This past week, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said he got and used a play design from a janitor back when he was a Green Bay Packers assistant and it resulted in a touchdown. Even the best offensive minds around sometimes have to go outside their own box to find the next innovative thing.
In his first year as Lions' offensive coordinator, Ben Johnson showed plenty of creativity and guts (see fourth down pass to Penei Sewell, the hook-and-lateral against Green Bay in Week 18). He also is open to implementing ideas from players, right down to offensive lineman, which surely fosters investment in the results.
On Saturday, rooted in what Reid said about getting a play from a janitor back in the day, Johnson was asked about the most unusual source he has had for a play design. Turns out it was recent, and from a pretty unexpected source.
Ben Johnson reveals unusual source of play design, which he may use
Here's what Johnson said, via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News.
"I think we were practicing against Jacksonville just a couple weeks ago, it’s the special teams period and one of the officials walked up to me,". "He had — I still have the diagram in my office — it’s a piece of (paper), he’s got 11 guys written up. He literally took the entire special teams period, it was over five minutes, talking about how this play would work out. That’s probably been the coolest setting that I’ve been in. I mean, we’re right in the middle of practice and he went off on a tangent. It’s a good idea. It’s a little bit out of the box. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it happen before.""
Johnson didn't offer any further details, but he also didn't rule out using the play and he will give credit for it if he does use it (as long as it's successful?).
"I have to give credit where credit is due", Johnson said.
The best coaches are open to ideas wherever they may come from, and Johnson has shown how open he is to all ideas whether he uses them or not. Some may dismiss a play idea from an official automatically, but the Lions' offensive coordinator saw it as an opportunity to add to his playbook.