Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes has a long checklist this offseason, but this is the moment he lives for. Even though he, too, was sad to see the team’s season end on Sunday night in Lambeau, he admitted last week that he couldn’t hold in his excitement on the way home.
“On the plane going back, yeah, I was excited,” Holmes said. “I was like, ‘Man, it’s time to get players now.’ And that just gives me juices, man, when that opportunity and those windows come up. It’s exciting to have the capital that we have.”
The Lions do indeed have a lot of capital to work with this offseason—the seventh most of any other team in the NFL. But Holmes will have to be selective and careful with his choices. The Lions are now a destination place for players, including many in-house guys who will become free agents at the start of the new league year.
The Lions have work to do outside of just player acquisition, too. The Lions may need to adjust their coaching staff, they’ll have to continue developing their own young players through offseason workouts and minicamp. Hey, they may even throw in some new uniforms at some point.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
What is the Lions’ biggest offseason priority in 2023?
My answer: I imagine a lot of people will say retain offensive coordinator Ben Johnson—and for good reason. He was the Lions’ best coach on staff last year, and he clearly played a huge part in orchestrating a top-five offense last year.
The reason I’m not going to say this is because I’m not sure there’s anything the Lions can do about it—nor do they want to. Coach Dan Campbell made it very clear he is not going to stand in Johnson’s way. And while in an ideal world the Lions would throw a fortune at Johnson to get him to stay, that is a temporary fix on what would be a long-term problem.
You see, when you’re a good organization, your coaches are going to get regularly poached. It happens with the Patriots, it happened to the Rams. When you’re a good team, people want your coaches.
The best way to weather that kind of storm isn’t to try and lock your coaches up and prevent them from getting promotions anywhere. It’s to develop a coaching system where people inside the building are continually getting developed. It’s to build a succession plan so that when the inevitable happens, you’re ready.
Now, the Lions are a little too young to have all that. It’d be nice to have Johnson around for at least one more year to start really digging into the team’s own staff and finding the people who have what it takes for a promotion. But I agree with Campbell’s philosophy that you can’t hold your own coaches back when their time arrives, and it just may be Johnson’s time.
So my biggest offseason priority is to do just that. Look within the Lions coaching staff and start the wheels in motion for more development amongst the group. Chances are this is already happening—it may have been happening from Day 1. But if this team is truly serious about long-term, sustained success, having a resilient coaching staff that can weather the occasional coordinator poach is one of the most underrated keys.