DETROIT – Star offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has decided to stay with the Detroit Lions despite the buzz linking him to head coaching jobs around the league, according to a report.
Tom Pelissero, of NFL Network, said Johnson “feels Detroit is building something special and wants to see it through.”
Johnson was supposed to travel to an interview with the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday (Jan. 18), but instead, he informed other teams that he’s staying in Detroit, the report says.
The 36-year-old Johnson has been with the Lions since 2019 and was retained by Dan Campbell after Matt Patricia’s firing two years ago. Campbell gave Johnson the offensive coordinator gig after firing Anthony Lynn last offseason.
In his first year on the job, Johnson led the Lions to the fourth-ranked offense in terms of per-game yardage and the fifth-best scoring unit. Detroit was efficient both through the air (8th in rushing yards per game) and on the ground (11th in rushing yards per game).
Quarterback Jared Goff passed for 4,438 yards in Johnson’s offense while completing 65.1% of his attempts for an average of 7.6 yards. He threw 29 touchdown passes and seven picks, but went without an interception in the final nine games.
Jamaal Williams rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored a franchise record 17 touchdowns on the ground. His backfield partner, D’Andre Swift, averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 8.1 yards per catch.
Johnson dialed up some of the most memorable plays of the NFL season when the Lions needed them most. He famously threw a pass to offensive lineman Penei Sewell to seal the win over the Minnesota Vikings, and just last week crafted a wide receiver screen turned hook-and-ladder when the Lions needed a conversion against the Green Bay Packers.
Next season, Johnson will retain No. 1 receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown while adding 2022 first-round pick Jameson Williams to the mix full-time. Swift and Kalif Raymond -- who quietly racked up 616 receiving yards -- will be back, as well.
After starting the season with a 1-6 record, the Lions won eight of their final 10 games to finish 9-8 and miss the postseason by a tiebreaker. Now, for the first time in a long time, a playoff berth has become the expectation in Detroit.
#Lions OC Ben Johnson informed interested teams he’s staying in Detroit, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 18, 2023
Johnson was slated to travel Wednesday to interview with the #Panthers. But he feels Detroit is building something special and wants to see it through. Should be a hot HC name again next year. pic.twitter.com/vUNLyKFtLf