You can add the Carolina Panthers to the teams interested in Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. When first reported by Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, the Panthers have asked to interview Johnson for their position as head coach. Combined with interview requests from the Colts and Texans, Johnson already has interest from three out of five teams currently looking for a new head coach — and we’re only on the first day of the offseason.
The Panthers have five other known candidates for the job so far: former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell Reportedly interviewed on Monday, former Colts head coach Frank Reich interview scheduled, the panthers have requested to speak with Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and Bill’s offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, and Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks – who won 6-6 in the temporary role that year –will reportedly be interviewing on Tuesday.
Johnson has been with the Lions since 2019 when he started as a quality control coach. He was promoted to tight ends coach the next season, and when the Lions fired offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn midway through the 2021 season, Johnson was promoted to passing game coordinator, whom he then made offensive coordinator for 2022.
As a first-time play caller, Johnson demonstrated a natural ability to design plays and choose the right plays at just the right time. Throughout that season, he’s been lauded for his unique design on games that proved game-changing, whether it was the 51-yard touchdown pass to Brock Wright vs Vikings or Sunday’s hook-and-ladder game that helped make it happen to win the final against the Packers.
This is Johnson’s first year of talking about the NFL coaching carousel, but interest in him seems to be spreading quickly and widely.