The Detroit Lions have a loaded roster. On the field, yes, but also on their coaching staff. Dan Campbell assembled a group of teachers rich with NFL experience when he first came to Detroit. Through two seasons of turnover, Campbell has continued that trend as he fills vacant spots.
A lot of those coaches are young, getting their first gig or seeing Detroit as their up-and-coming opportunity. There have been talks of future coordinators, even head coaches — heck, we all see the opportunities Ben Johnson have ahead of him, as evidenced by all the head coach interviews this offseason.
Question of the day: Which Detroit Lions coach is most ready for a promotion?
The Lions are really lucky to have several very worthy answers to this question. It’s a testament to the team that general manager Brad Holmes and Campbell have built, and to how bright their future is. The way I see it, there are three ways to approach this question: the popular answer, the obvious answer, and my answer.
The obvious answer, as mentioned before, is Ben Johnson. The man had one foot out the door before the Ford family opened up their checkbook just wide enough to convince Johnson to stay and finish the job in Detroit. It’s totally warranted, too, as he has rocketed through the ranks on the Lions’ staff and assembled an unsuspectingly elite offense in 2022.
The popular answer is Kelvin Sheppard, who’s on a Ben Johnson-esque trajectory on the Lions defense. Just after his retirement as a player, he returned to the Honolulu Blue on the sidelines and has quickly milked every ounce of talent out of the Lions’ linebacking corps. After Malcolm Rodriguez burst onto the scene and Alex Anzalone had a career year, Sheppard’s next test will be trial by fire with rookie linebacker Jack Campbell.
The folks in Allen Park have plenty of faith in Sheppard, though. Just last week, Dan Campbell heaved more praise towards Sheppard, stating that “he can be a coordinator one day, and I think he can be a head coach one day.”
Both Johnson and Sheppard have shown lots of promise and would be well deserving of taking their respective next steps. However, I think there is one guy oft overlooked who has the sharpest resume of them all.
My answer: Hank Fraley.
Offensive line coaches, just like the players they lead, do not get nearly enough credit. Hank Fraley is among the best in the league. He’s a damn good coach, he’s personable with his players, and he has a proven track record of excellence.
No knock on Johnson and Sheppard, but the one thing they’re missing is sustained success, and they’ll both have the opportunity to prove that this season. Fraley has done so, and done so for a long time. Fraley has coached this offensive line under three offensive coordinators. He endured the Matt Patricia era, put out a quality product under Anthony Lynn’s offensive reign, and is now doing his finest work to set up Ben Johnson’s offensive success.
I don’t know how well an offensive line coach would translate to an offensive coordinator, but if not a coordinator, Fraley has the makings of a head coach. He has made the most of what he has to work with. The Lions put out one of the league’s best offensive line performances week after week despite going a good chunk of the season down their top three or four guards. Fraley also knows how to win over his players—just ask Taylor Decker what he thinks of his coach.
I don’t know what Fraley’s next step will be, or if he’ll get that opportunity. However, it’s time we start regularly crediting him with the fine work he’s done in the same category as coaches like Ben Johnson and Kelvin Sheppard, if not above that.
Which Detroit Lions coach do you think is most ready for a promotion? Vote below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Which Detroit Lions coach is most ready for a promotion?
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