“Why is Ben Johnson the best OC in football? Let me count the ways” – Terry Foster
He found something in Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff that Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay could not.
He made Goff a better quarterback. He brought together a band of no names and misfits and turned them into one of the most lethal offense units in the NFL. And he’s just getting started.
No wonder Pro Football Focus names Lions coach Ben Johnson the best offensive coordinator in the NFL.
“Detroit’s Ben Johnson is doing such a good job with the Lions that he has people believing in Jared Goff again,” PFF wrote. “A quarterback whose salary dump was once used as a makeweight for a first-round pick 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.”
The Lions have a lot going for them in the front office and coaching room. GM Brad Holmes seems to be making all the right moves. Head coach Dan Campbell brought in a macho man culture that owner Sheila Hamp wanted.
But do you know what freaks Lions fans out the most? That Johnson might take a head coaching job when the 2023 season is over and leave. He could have departed last season, but circumstances were not right for him. So, he stayed with the Lions and has more weapons at his disposal this season.
The Lions ranked third in the league in touchdowns (54) and did not begin to win games until the defense began to catch up to the offense.
There is more potential on offense this season. David Montgomery is an upgrade at running back. Many experts in this town view rookie Jahmyr Gibbs as simply a running back. Johnson sees more than that and will use him in ways we cannot imagine. Tight end Sam LaPorta is more than a tight end. Johnson will figure out ways to utilize his talents.
Here is another wild card. Undrafted running back Mohamed Ibrahim, a man who is always moving forward, will find a role in this offense.
Johnson is a bright guy who thinks of creative ways in his spare time to make this offense click.
He believes the offense will be even better this year.
“We have to be a lot better in terms of the execution, and we should be because we should know what the problems are for the plays that we are running now. I personally expect a huge step forward in terms of growth, the knowledge base of our players, the experience they have under their belts now. And so that’s why the emphasis has been on the basics. Let’s get really good at the fundamentals, because that’s what helped us win games at the end last year.”
For more from the author Terry Foster, check him out on Twitter here: @terryfosterdet
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Original Photo Credit: © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK