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Lions OC Ben Johnson named finalist for Assistant Coach of the Year

The Lions offensive coordinator is one of three finalists for Assistant Coach of the Year... and he may very well win it.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

While Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell was snubbed for the Associated Press 2022 NFL Coach of the Year nominations, one Lions coach is up for some post-season honors. Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is one of three finalists for AP’s Assistant Coach of the Year. Johnson is up against Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

All three coordinators are extremely hot names for the five head coach vacancies heading into 2023. However, last week Johnson removed his name from consideration, choosing instead to return to the Lions—and receiving a nice not-so-little pay raise in the process.

Under Johnson, the Lions produced the fifth-highest scoring offense, Jared Goff had his best career year in at least four seasons, and Jamaal Williams led the NFL in rushing touchdowns, breaking Barry Sanders’ single-season franchise record with 17. This was Johnson’s first year as an NFL coordinator, and he increased Detroit’s points per game output by a full touchdown, going from 19.1 in 2021 to 26.6 this season.

Of course, Johnson was helped out by a healthier offensive line, better receivers, and a second year of Jared Goff in Detroit. That said, the Lions hit several bumps in the road this season, with DJ Chark missing six games, Amon-Ra St. Brown dealing with an ankle sprain for a month, a rotating cast of characters at right guard, and a limited D’Andre Swift all season.

Plus, Johnson deserves a lot of credit for bold play-calling in critical moments. His fourth-and-1 call against the Jets basically won the Lions that game. His clever pass play to Penei Sewell sealed the victory against the Vikings. And the lateral play in the finale against the Green Bay Packers put them in a position to put the game away (which they did).

While Steichen and Ryans are more than deserving to win this award, you have to think Johnson has a really good chance of winning these honors. The winner will be announced at the NFL Honors show on Thursday, February 9.

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