There were natural questions about the Detroit Lions' offense at this time last year. High on the list was Ben Johnson, who was a first-year offensive coordinator and a first-time play caller.
So much for that question. The Lions were a top-five scoring and yardage offense in the NFL last year, with a league-low 15 turnovers, and Johnson got looks for multiple head coaching jobs as a rising young coach in the league.
Johnson ultimately said, essentially, "thanks but no thanks" to teams interested in him as a head coach. He apparently got a nice raise to stay in Detroit, which can't be discounted as a reason he decided to stay.
But there's also something to be said for comfort and fit where you are, and the head coaching openings this year really weren't all that appealing if we're being honest. It is only a matter of time before Johnson is a head coach, perhaps in 2024.
Relationship with Jared Goff a big reason Ben Johnson stayed with the Lions
It's clear Johnson did something simple and obvious last season. He leaned into what Jared Goff does best, and valued the quarterback's input into what the scheme and play-calling looked like. Goff having more experience than he did when he was under the thumb of Sean McVay with the Rams helps, but collaboration and trust between a coach and a quarterback go a long way to fueling success.
Dan Pompei of The Athletic (subscription required) has written about the relationship between Johnson and Goff, and how they've elevated each other and the Lions.
Johnson cited his relationship with Goff as a huge reason he stayed in Detroit his offseason.
"He’s one of the biggest reasons why I didn’t want to leave,” “I feel we are tied together to a degree. He’s an extension of me, and I’m an extension of him. I’ve told him multiple times his success is my success and vice versa.”"
Goff talked, again, about how Johnson values his input.
"I know anything I say to him will be taken pretty seriously,” Goff said. “He really values my opinion and cares about what I’m saying. That’s huge for a quarterback.”"
Johnson's work elevating Goff's level of play last year naturally got him attention as one of best young offensive coaches in the league. There's real risk of regression from Goff this season, but play caller and quarterback being so in concert is obviously going to be helpful to mitigating that risk.