It’s safe to say that Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has won the locker room ahead of his first game in his new role. Johnson got an unofficial promotion from a tight coach to pass the game coordinator midway through last season, and he was certainly part of the reason why the Detroit attacker was shot in the arm. As a result, when the Lions separated from Anthony Lane at the end of the year, Johnson was the natural in charge of the attack’s coordinator.
Now that he’s in the center of the attack, the players have been outpacing Johnson and obviously have high expectations for him and for the attack.
This is the future of black Calif Raymond from back in March:
“He’s a great mind, so passionate, I already know what he can do, but I’m so excited to work with him and see what he can do more, because he’s a great coach. So, excited man. That’s a great mind out there.”
And here is the recipient Amon-Ra St. Brown last month:
“I love him. I think he is one of the best coaches I have ever been, and I am so excited to have him as our offensive coordinator.”
That was before the lions took the field for organized team activities and small camps. Now that the Lions’ Offseason program is about to end and the offense is in the fixing phase, players are starting to see what Johnson can really do, and it’s fair to say they’re more excited than they were when Johnson officially got a promotion.
“I just think Ben’s smart, man,” said center Frank Ragno. “I can’t say enough about Ben Johnson. I think he’s an amazing head coach and the way he reported (insulting) us, simplifying it for us, but (it’s) still complicated for who we play, I think it will be very helpful.”
Yes, that’s Ragnow with a Freudian slip, already calling Ben Johnson head coach.
One of the biggest focus points for the attack this year has been creating the pace in and out of the rally. Detroit spent much of their off-season program focusing on getting to the line quickly to put pressure on the defense and catch them off guard.
This does not come easily. It’s not just a matter of getting out of the crowd and running into the line of scrimmage. It requires quick communication in the assembly, quick adjustments to the line, and most importantly, a simplified method of communication so that what is usually conveyed in six or seven words can be conveyed in one or two words. This is where Johnson thrives.
“He’s an incredible interlocutor,” Rajno continued. “He’s very relatable. I think just being younger definitely helps, but then he’s very relatable. Like I said earlier, that complicates the things we do as a crime, but the way he simplifies it and passes it on to men, so that men are Such as [snapping] “This, this,” play quickly. And I think that’s very special.”
Of course, Johnson also went above and beyond this off-season to make the midfielder more comfortable. Jared Goff has sat down with Johnson for several days to review his best tape from his Rams days in Los Angeles, and they have teamed up together to incorporate what has worked into what they are trying to build in Detroit. Needless to say, Goff was very grateful for the gesture.
“I think the most exciting part for me was the effect he was allowing me to have, and he asked me, and I was really curious about what I was thinking and what I liked,” Goff said. “(He was) really curious, because now it’s part of what we do, so I know it wasn’t fake. It’s exciting for me to be in year seven now and I feel like I’ve kind of won over getting that voice that he gave me, which was fun.”
Johnson also took that collaborative strategy into the much-improved reception room. Even back in the past year, Calif Raymond noticed Johnson going out of his way to ask players what they saw on the field.
“I don’t think any of our recipients feel like a fluke when Ben Johnson tells us what to do, because he’d be like, ‘Hey, guys imparting information,’ and he’s also very open, man,” Raymond said. So, because all the chatter is about — ‘Hey, what do you guys see?’ Transfer the information, and you will get it right. With that, it creates a lot of confidence and continuity.”
It’s clear that Johnson still has to prove it on the field this year. The Lions have a lot to improve after last year they finished 25th in scoring and 29th in overall efficiency (by DVOA). But with a new offensive coordinator, an upgraded reception room, and a healthy offensive line, his clear expectations are high.