While it appeared like Ben Johnson was the heavy favorite to land the head coach job for the Washington Commanders, the Lions offensive coordinator will return for another season with the Detroit Lions, according to Tom Pelissero. Per Pelissero, Johnson informed both the Commanders and the Seattle Seahawks that he plans to return to Detroit.
Per Adam Schefter, Johnson was “not the head-coaching lock” that some were suggesting and that his asking price “spooked some teams.” Earlier during the regular season, it was reported by Josina Anderson that Johnson was seeking $15 million a year, although Johnson’s agent denied that.
Regardless of the reason, Johnson returning to the Lions is a massive win for the Lions and quarterback Jared Goff. The Lions offense has been ranked fifth in scoring in back-to-back seasons, and Johnson’s unique play-calling helped Detroit advance all the way to the NFC Championship Game, where they hung 31 points on a strong San Francisco 49ers defense.
“We was a critical piece for us,” coach Dan Campbell said of Johnson on Monday. “He’s a critical piece.”
Johnson reportedly interviewed with five different teams this coaching cycle: Commanders, Seahawks, Falcons, Chargers, and Panthers. Both he and Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn were set to have in-person interviews on Tuesday with the Commanders, who traveled to Detroit to talk to both candidates.
At this point, Glenn’s status is still up in the air. He remains a candidate for the Commanders’ job, but he has not been interviewed by the only other remaining vacancy (Seahawks).
You can keep track of all the Lions’ coaches—and the interest they are drawing from other teams—with our 2024 coaching carousel tracker.
UPDATE: Per Schefter, Johnson informed the Commanders of his decision before his scheduled interview with them later on Tuesday:
Commanders officials were en route to Detroit for a meeting with Ben Johnson and Aaron Glenn when they got word that Johnson was staying with the Lions, per sources. While the abrupt pivot by Johnson was considered “surprising” by several league sources, he was not considered a…— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 30, 2024