We’ve yet to hear directly from Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson since he notified the Washington Commanders and Seattle Seahawks that he will not be pursuing a head coach job and is returning to Detroit. However, thanks to Amon-Ra St. Brown, we have a better idea of what made Johnson return.
During the latest episode of the St. Brown Brothers podcast, Amon-Ra told the story of Johnson calling him on Tuesday morning—before the news of his return hit Twitter. After some small talk, St. Brown got down to business and asked what Johnson was planning to do.
“He said he couldn’t sleep last night. He was thinking about it, and he said there’s unfinished business,” St. Brown said. “He wants to stay. He said the guys on the team, shoot. He said me, Jared (Goff), Frank (Ragnow), Penei (Sewell), (Taylor) Decker. All the guys. He said his heart is in Detroit, he wants to stay.”
That was around 9:30 a.m. ET—about 20 minutes before the news broke nationally. So St. Brown did what a good receiver does: immediately text his quarterback.
“Ben just called me, he’s staying,” St. Brown said he texted Goff.
Johnson’s reasoning makes sense. The NFC Championship likely left a sour taste in his mouth after the Lions scored 24 first half points and just seven in the second. Additionally, we’ve heard Johnson praise the organization and head coach Dan Campbell over and over again.
Here’s Johnson just three weeks ago on Campbell:
“He’s the best leader I’ve been around,” Johnson said. “I think regardless of whichever sport I’ve been a part of. It’s really impressive what he’s been able to do. Being true to himself, demanding, he’s results-driven, but yet his way of delivering a message and getting it across, what to say, how to say it at the right time. I mean, it’s really unique and it’s special. I think it’s hard to replicate, to be honest with you.
“But more than anything, it’s really just being comfortable in his own skin and trusting and empowering those around him. He’s created an environment here as coordinators, as position coaches, as players that we’re very comfortable and it helps us be the best that we can be at our jobs.”
At some point, we’ll hear from the man himself, but for now, it appears Detroit has become a special place to Johnson, and he plans on taking this team even further than the NFC Championship next season.