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Lions OC Ben Johnson explains why he stayed in Detroit

Ben Johnson said he’s never been more encouraged by the Lions’ direction and had to come back to see it through.

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

Free agency hasn’t even started, and the Detroit Lions may have already made their most important move of the offseason. Last month after taking a few interviews, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson opted to pull his name out of head coaching consideration, and the Lions reportedly rewarded him with a significant raise. Johnson is considered one of the brightest, youngest offensive minds in football, and he helped turn the Lions’ offense into one of the best in the league seemingly overnight.

On Wednesday night, the Lions released a video of Johnson’s first public comments since making his decision to return. Here’s what he said verbatim about the decision.

“It’s really simple for me, it starts with this place and these people. (I’ve) been here four years now, and I believe in Sheila (Hamp) and what she’s doing, Rod Wood, Dan (Campbell), Brad (Holmes). It starts at the top and I think it’s trickled down. This is as encouraged I’ve been in my four years with the direction of the Lions and where we’re headed.

“I always go back to this story: right before COVID hit, it was one of the first offseasons I’ve had here. Garth Brooks had a concert down at Ford Field, and I remember sitting there thinking at the time—I was just soaking it in, the atmosphere—and it was like, ‘Holy cow! This is what a home playoff game is gonna be like.’ And this is what I want to be a part of. This is what I want to feel, this is what I want to experience, and it made me feel some type of way. I kept going back to that as part of the process.

“You know what? There’s so many good things going on here, so many good people, coaches, players. I love the offensive staff, everyone we have on board there. I love the players. I love coming into work everyday. Coach Campbell is incredible. End of the day, talking with my family, it just made sense. It made sense. Don’t ruin a good thing.”

He also expanded on how much having Campbell around impacted his decision.

“He’s a rock, man. And we’re so fortunate to have him. The guys, the players, the coaches that maybe don’t have the same experience, I think one day they’ll come to appreciate how special he really is. Everything that we’re doing here is within his vision offensively as a team. He’s really critical to the whole process. I know on a personal level, I value my friendship with him probably more than anybody. I’ve known him for a long time.”

We’ll have more on this excellent interview later, but you can watch the entire thing here:

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.