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Friday open thread: Have expectations changed for 2023 Lions with Ben Johnson’s return?

After an 8-2 finish in 2022, expectations were already going to be high for the 2023 Detroit Lions. With Ben Johnson back as offensive coordinator, they may be even higher.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions were already going to be a trendy pick to make some noise in the 2023 NFL season. After starting the season 1-6, the Lions managed to finish the year strong—posting an 8-2 record over the next 10 weeks, and narrowly missing the playoffs. Their offense was consistently one of the best units in all of football, while the defense progressed in a major way over the second half of the season.

However, in the NFL, one of the byproducts of success is having your coaching staff picked through by other teams looking to hire the next hot name. This is where offensive coordinator Ben Johnson comes in. After a 2021 season where he and coach Dan Campbell more or less co-piloted the offense, Johnson had more autonomy in 2022, and the offense soared. Quarterback Jared Goff arguably had the best year of his career, and the Lions’ offense seemed to morph into whatever form was needed to best handle that week’s opponent. Unsurprisingly, several teams that are currently in need of a new head coach were very interested in Johnson, as the NFL is seemingly always looking for the next young, offensive-minded coach. That is, until Johnson told them to kick rocks, and that he was staying in Detroit for another season.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Have expectations changed for 2023 Lions with Ben Johnson’s return?

My answer: Yes, but not by much. Is having Johnson back a great thing for continuity within the offense and familiarity for Goff? Definitely. Both of those things should be vital for a Lions team that will be looking to start 2023 on a positive note after stumbling out of the gate in 2022. Rather than spending time getting on the same page in the offseason and in the spring, now they can continue building on what they already have in place.

However, would I have trusted coach Dan Campbell to find someone to replace Johnson in the event he did leave for a head coaching gig? Absolutely. I think people underestimate how many people Campbell has great relationships with in league circles. Whenever you hear other coaches and players talk, Campbell seems very well-liked and respected. When Campbell inevitably does have to replace a coach, I imagine there will be no shortage of names he can call on that would love to come work for him in Detroit.

What about you? Have your expectations already changed knowing Ben Johnson is going to be in Detroit for at least another year? Let us know in the comments.


Have your expectations changed with Ben Johnson back as offensive coordinator?

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