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2022 Detroit Lions awards: Coach of the Year

Which Detroit Lions coach deserves 2022 Coach of the Year honors? Vote in our poll.

NFL: Washington Commanders at Detroit Lions Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports

As you can tell by the coaching carousel that is still ongoing across the NFL, the Detroit Lions’ coaching staff turned some heads in 2022. Assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley has moved on to the Carolina Panthers. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was one of the hotter names for head coaching jobs before taking himself out of the running. And even defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn remains a realistic candidate for both the Cardinals and Colts head coach vacancies.

But which one of them deserves the honors of our fourth 2022 Pride of Detroit award?

Here’s a look at our staff’s nominees for Coach of the Year.


Ryan Mathews

OC Ben Johnson

The Detroit Lions offense in 2022 ranks among the best iterations in franchise history. They scored the second-most points in team history (453) and they crossed over 6,000 net yards of offense this season, only the fifth time that’s happened in their 92-year history. Give it up to the man behind the call sheet in his first year as offensive coordinator—and his first year calling plays.

Jeremy Reisman

HC Dan Campbell

While Campbell wasn’t perfect with his in-game management, several analytical measures show that he added more win probability for his team than almost any other NFL head coach with his bold decision making. While Ben Johnson deserves credit for some great fourth down designs, Campbell deserves credit for giving the green light in the first place.

On top of that, he made some tough personnel decisions and tough coaching decisions for a second year in a row. He’s now shown in back-to-back seasons that he’s unwilling to just sit on his hands when things are not going right. That fearlessness to make big changes midseason is not a common trait, but it is a big one.

There’s a reason Brad Holmes said Campbell “has an elite ability to pull a team out of a dark place.” We saw it on display as the Lions went from a 1-6 team to one of the best teams in the NFL in November/December/January.

Morgan Cannon

OC Ben Johnson

As an offensive line enthusiast, I really wanted to go with Hank Fraley here, but it has to be Ben Johnson. The first-year offensive coordinator tailored an offense that was built around his player’s strengths, and one that could beat an opponent in a multitude of ways. To me, that is the foundation of being a good coach and play caller.

Erik Schlitt

HC Dan Campbell

I debated this question for a long time. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was amazing and there’s a reason he was one of the hottest names in this head coaching cycle. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s mid-season turnaround of the defense was highly underrated, which is why he is still being considered for a head coaching position. Assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley helped Jamaal Williams set career marks, breaking 1,000 rushing yards and Barry Sanders’ single-season touchdown record. Tight ends coach Tanner Engstrand worked some magic with his group, helping them earn a Lions record 12 touchdowns in a single season, with nine of them coming after the team traded Pro Bowler T.J. Hockenson. Linebackers coach Kelvin Shepard turned the Lions linebackers into a respectable unit after being a liability for years. And, of course, offensive line coach Hank Fraley deserves a statue for what his unit accomplished.

With all these great options available, it clicked to me that the man pulling the strings probably deserved the most credit. Coach Dan Campbell took a team that was written off by nearly everyone and turned this team’s direction on its head. Under his leadership, the Lions went 8-2 down the stretch and multiple players on both sides of the ball recorded career years and set team and NFL records. He may have been snubbed from AP’s coach of the year consideration, but he won’t be denied his recognition here.

Mike Payton

HC Dan Campbell

Ben Johnson can make an argument, but you have to go with Dan Campbell here. There was a time when the Lions were 1-6 and some crazy people were saying that maybe the Lions should move on from Campbell. To go from that to being in the playoff hunt until the last day of the season is something that you have to award a Coach of the Year award for. Sadly the Associated Press doesn’t feel the same way.

John Whiticar

OC Ben Johnson

Credit to Dan Campbell, but the Lions are not 9-8 this season without Ben Johnson. The offense kept the team in games that would have otherwise been blowouts. Jared Goff posted his best season in years, and the quarterback position went from an uncertainty to a pleasant surprise. Johnson deserves tons of praise for his work with Goff and scheming the offense around him and their abundant arsenal of weapons. Not only that, but Johnson wasn’t afraid to take risks. Throw to Penei Sewell with the game on the line? A brilliant play call on a Brock Wright game-winning touchdown? A clutch fourth-down pass to eliminate the Green Bay Packers with their season on the line? That’s bold, and that’s Ben Johnson.

Hamza Baccouche

LB coach Kelvin Sheppard

Because everyone knows the answer is Ben Johnson and you’ve probably read enough about him already, I’ll say Kelvin Sheppard. The Lions’ linebacker unit came into the season with debatably the most question marks of any unit. Malcolm Rodriguez answered those questions quite well for a sixth-round rookie, a huge testament to Sheppard’s coaching and development of him. As a whole, the unit had an up-and-down start, but grew into a very stable, reliable group as the season progressed. Alex Anzalone was put into a position to succeed better than he was in recent years, and Rodriguez complemented him well. Meanwhile, Derrick Barnes emerged into a niche role that fit his downhill style well, while not being asked to do more than what he was capable of. Huge props to Sheppard for his work this season.


Who was the Lions’ Coach of the Year

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    HC Dan Campbell
    (1051 votes)
  • 31%
    OC Ben Johnson
    (525 votes)
  • 3%
    OL coach Hank Fraley
    (51 votes)
  • 1%
    LB coach Kelvin Sheppard
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    (18 votes)
1668 votes total Vote Now

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