Ben Johnson Opens Up About Why He Turned Down Head Coaching Roles: ‘I Like the Sunshine’

After turning down head coaching jobs for the second offseason in a row, Lions OC Ben Johnson explained why he elected to stay in Detroit instead.

For the second year in a row, Ben Johnson bypassed head coaching jobs to stay with the Detroit Lions as their offensive coordinator. Last week, Johnson explained to reporters why he decided to put his head coaching career on hold yet again.

Why Did Detroit Lions OC Ben Johnson Pass on Head Coaching Jobs?

Johnson has been around the NFL since 2012, spending the first seven years of his career with the Miami Dolphins. It wasn’t until he got to the Lions in 2019 that his career took off. Going from offensive quality control coach to passing game coordinator, Johnson finally got his shot in 2022 and took no time to find success.

In each of the last two offseasons, the Lions’ offensive coordinator has been a hot commodity due to his innovative offense in Detroit. For the second year in a row, Johnson’s offense was a top-three unit in average yards per game, and under his watch, Jared Goff had a career season in 2023.

With the Lions’ success offensively, Johnson was a very popular head coaching candidate this offseason. The consensus was that Johnson would pick his own landing spot as a head coach, but to the surprise of many, he opted to stay in Detroit in his current role instead.

Last week, Johnson elaborated on his decision when speaking to the media.

“I like the sunshine. I like what we’ve built here, starting with ownership, the head coach, the GM on down,” Johnson said to the media. “We have a great group of guys in the locker room, and I want to reap the rewards with them a little bit longer.”

“I think when it boils down to it, I wanted the sunshine a little bit longer. That’s really what it comes down to for me,” Johnson said. “… Listen, there’s a lot of things that go into it, a lot of reasons and dynamics that play a part.”

“Something that really resonates with me is, OK, eight openings this past year. What would you set the over-under (at) in three years? How many still have jobs? I’d put the over-under at 4.5, I would say. I’d say there’s a good chance five of them are out of jobs in three years, you know?”

“When I look at it from that perspective, if I get the opportunity to go down that road, it’s about how do I get to that second contract? How do I set myself up?” Johnson said. “The stars need to align. I’m not going to do it just to do it. I love what I’m doing right now. Love it. I love where I’m at.”

Long story short, Johnson needs a truly good opportunity to pull him away from Detroit; he isn’t just taking a job just to take it. “The longer you’re in the coordinator chair, it does nothing but help you and prepare you more for the next step if it ever comes down the pipe,” Johnson said.

Which Teams Could Hire Johnson in 2025?

Since Johnson is clearly only targeting very promising situations, that likely means a quarterback needs to be in place. Additionally, a roster with building blocks, future draft capital and cap space, and a good owner are all some other factors he could be looking for.

The first team to come to mind is the Dallas Cowboys, who could be looking for a new head coach if Mike McCarthy doesn’t find ideal results in 2024. If the team can retain Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons, and other key contributors, Dallas could make for the perfect Johnson landing spot.

Next up is the Jacksonville Jaguars. While Doug Pederson is certainly not on the hot seat just yet after bringing the Jaguars out of the gutters, he very well could be if the team disappoints once again in 2024.

A late-season collapse in 2023 and a rough 2024 could lead to a change, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence, plus other roster pieces, can make for an attractive job if Johnson comes looking.

Another option? The Philadelphia Eagles. After a late-season collapse in 2023, Nick Sirianni is on the hot seat after the team already explored Bill Belichick but opted to keep Sirianni for 2024.

The Eagles’ roster is loaded, especially on offense with Jalen Hurts under contract for a long time. Around Hurts they have DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, who both just received contract extensions, and they added Saquon Barkley in free agency. Given their personnel on offense, it would be no surprise to see Johnson jump at this opportunity if it became available.

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