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Is Scottie Montgomery the Lions’ succession plan for Ben Johnson?

Scottie Montgomery has been a popular coach to interview for offensive coordinator positions over the past few seasons.

East Carolina v Cincinnati Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

“Everything is about succession plans... I just think making sure you’re aware of all possible angles and all possible outcomes that could happen, I think is very, very critical.”

Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes set the tone with that statement during his introductory press conference over two years ago. Since then, the Lions have put that philosophy to the test, replacing players, coaches, and front office personnel.

The Lions have had to replace a handful of position coaches this offseason, with the most notable being assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley joining the Carolina Panthers in an effort to be closer to his mother. Staley was replaced by Colts coach Scottie Montgomery has taken over both roles for the Lions.

The Lions were fortunate to return both offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who each interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs, but it seems like only a matter of time before one of them is hired away from Detroit.

The Lions have not announced any succession plans for either coordinator at this time, but there has been plenty of debate about it in the media. Defense remains a mystery—especially after Todd Wash left for the Panthers—but the original speculation on offense seemed to gravitate to Tanner Engstrand (Lions passing game coordinator) as a possible successor to Johnson. But then, after Montgomery was hired, he started getting more attention as the potential next in line because he is one of the more experienced coaches on staff.

That attention for Montgomery increased on Wednesday at the NFL Combine, when coach Dan Campbell revealed that during the 2022 hiring cycle, Montgomery was actually one of the other candidates up for the offensive coordinator position.

“I was impressed,” Campbell said of Montgomery. “That’s why these interviews—they may not work out at the time, but everything happens for a reason. So to be able to acquire him as our running backs coach/assistant head coach from the Colts was big. I think he’s going to be an outstanding teacher. I think he’s got a lot of versatility. He’s coached the receivers, he’s coached running backs, he’s been a head coach, he’s been a coordinator, he’s worked with quarterbacks. So I just think this is a talented coach, man, that’s got a lot of wisdom. He’s a motivator (with) energy. So we’re happy to have him.”

In 2022, Montgomery not only interviewed with the Lions, but he also interviewed with the Panthers (twice), as well as the Saints. This offseason, after landing his job with the Lions, Montgomery took another interview for an offensive coordinator job with the Buccaneers. It’s safe to say, Montgomery’s services are in demand.

With Johnson likely to be a hot coaching name again during the 2024 coaching hiring cycle, Montgomery seems like a natural successor at offensive coordinator if Johnson were to accept a head coaching position.

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