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3 NFL teams request to interview Lions OC Ben Johnson for head coaching jobs

Johnson has already been linked to three of the five NFL head coaching vacancies.

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

You can add the Carolina Panthers to the teams that are interested in Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. As first reported by Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, the Panthers have requested to interview Johnson for their head coaching position. Combined with interview requests from the Colts and Texans, Johnson already has interest from three of five teams currently seeking a new head coach—and we’re only in Day 1 of the offseason.

The Panthers have five other known candidates for the job so far: former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell reportedly interviewed Monday, former Colts head coach Frank Reich is scheduled to interview, the Panthers have requested to talk to Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, and Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks—who went 6-6 in the temporary role this year—will reportedly interview Tuesday.

Johnson has been with the Lions since 2019, when he started as a quality control coach. He was promoted to tight ends coach the next season, and when the Lions fired offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn in the middle of 2021 season, Johnson got a promotion to pass game coordinator, which he then turned into the offensive coordinator job for 2022..

As a first-time play caller, Johnson displayed a natural ability to design plays and dial up the appropriate plays at the exact right time. Down the stretch of this season, he’s been praised for unique designs on what turned out to be game-winning plays: be it the 51-yard touchdown pass to Brock Wright vs. the Jets, the game-sealing pass to Penei Sewell over the Vikings, or Sunday’s hook-and-ladder play that helped clinch the finale vs. the Packers.

This is Johnson’s first year in the NFL coaching carousel conversation, but interest in him seems to be quick and widespread.

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