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Friday open thread: Should Dan Campbell or Ben Johnson call offensive plays for the Lions in 2022?

Campbell or Johnson, who ya got?

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions ended their search for a new offensive coordinator on Monday when they promoted tight ends coach Ben Johnson to the position. Johnson was one of the key catalysts in the Lions' offensive success during the back half of the 2021 season, and he was acknowledged as the designer and implementer of several game-altering plays.

Johnson has received a lot of praise, both in the media and amongst the coaching community, and Bengals coach Zac Taylor called him “one of the best young coaches in the league” in a recent Super Bowl press conference.

The hiring of an up-and-coming intelligent young coach is good business, but how much control he has over the offense still appears to be somewhat unclear.

Last season, Campbell took over play call duties for the back half of the season, and as recently as last week, he said he still wasn’t sure if he was willing to give up that role, regardless of who he hired as an offensive coordinator.

“I don’t know,” Campbell said at the Senior Bowl. “I’m still thinking it through.”

So that brings us to our question of the day:

Should Dan Campbell or Ben Johnson call offensive plays for the Lions in 2022?

Option 1: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

After a rocky couple of games in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the Lions started to find a groove on Thanksgiving and got their first win of the season the following week over division rival Minnesota Vikings. Including that win, the Lions went 3-3 down the stretch, with starting quarterback Jared Goff accounting for a 3-1 record. Those final two wins were not pushovers either. The wins came over the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers, who were both the NFC’s No. 1 seed at the time of the Lions’ victory.

At his end of the year press conference, Campbell talked about the pros and cons of remaining the play-caller:

I think the pros are that I’ll only continue to get better as an offensive play-caller and I’ll get better at both, being both as far as game management and a play-caller. I think those are the pros.

I think the cons can be that you’re not as invested defensively and special teams with the totality of your players that you might – that you would be able to be if you weren’t so invested in the offense.

So, I think that’s the pros and cons and I’ve got to decide that. I’ve got to weigh it and look, I’ve got time. I’m not in a hurry, that’s for sure. I’m not in some hurry to do something here. I feel pretty good one way or another about what we’re going to do because I do know we’re going in the right direction offensively. I do believe that.

The Lions did show significant improvements over the final month and a half of the season, and if Campbell believes he and the team will continue to improve in 2022, it may be best to not rock the boat too much.

Option 2: Trust the man you hired for the job

It’s important to not gloss over the “cons” in Campbell’s answer above. Can the team afford to have him so concentrated on the offense that he is unable to focus on his other head coaching responsibilities? Additionally, was Campbell the reason for all that offensive success, or was it the man behind the curtain that should get most of the credit?

Johnson, a former quarterback at North Carolina, has NFL experience coaching quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends. It’s a balanced resume that expands over a decade at the pro level, and he proved last season that he has a creative offensive mind, capable of changing games.

“Ben’s been awesome,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “Ever since I got here, he’s been one the guys that you can kind of rely on as a good voice and understands kind of everything that we’re trying to do. Since he’s been in that role, being able to lean on him and asking these questions and having him take some ownership over some stuff has been really cool. He’s a guy who’s got a lot of experience in the quarterback room and applying himself back in his time. But, it’s been a lot of fun working with him.”

Not only does Johnson appear ready to take on the coordinator position and all the duties that come with it, but at some point, Campbell will need to put his faith in the man he promoted to the position.

My answer: It’s Ben Johnson time

Campbell has said and shown multiple times over the past year that he trusts his staff to do their job and he needs to same with Johnson in his new role.

Yes, there are bound to be some rough spots from Johnson at the beginning of the season as he acclimates to play calling, but the long-term upside of that experience should pay off down the road. Plus, it’s not like Campbell will be excluded from this process. Campbell will still have an open line of communication with Johnson on every play (via his headset), and he has the authority to override a decision or play call at any time.

In my mind, Johnson has earned the right to get an opportunity to call plays. Agree? Disagree? Vote in the poll and sound off in the comments.

Poll

Should Dan Campbell or Ben Johnson call offensive plays for the Lions in 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Dan Campbell
    (166 votes)
  • 85%
    Ben Johnson
    (976 votes)
1142 votes total Vote Now