Detroit head coach Dan Campbell had plenty to say about the direction of Lions offense in 2022 under Ben Johnson. What stood out the most was the praise Johnson received from Campbell publically.
“Yeah, I have that expectation as well,” Campbell stated after being asked about Johnson’s expectations for the coming season. “It’s always that my expectation, but this year, I feel like it’s attainable.”
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Coach Campbell went on to say, “The talent we have, the coaches, the O-line we have, I feel like there’s no reason not to. So, it’s going to take a lot of work and we know that and we’re still not even close to where we need to be, but the work us being put in and we are on our way. ”
Before being named the offensive coordinator this offseason, Ben Johnson was the Lions’ TE coach and helped develop TJ Hockenson into becoming the first Detroit tight end to make it to the Pro Bowl since 1999, in 2020. Johnson came into the NFL in 2012 as an offensive assistant for the Miami Dolphins and has notably moved up the ranks, serving as assistant quarterbacks coach and tight end coach when Campbell was the interim head coach.
Eventually, Johnson was promoted to wide receivers coach for Miami in 2018, where he helped unlock Albert Wilson’s full potential, as Wilson finished second in yards after catch (12.9) in the entire NFL that season. We saw his developmental gifts last season again, as he helped unlock Amon-Ra St. Brown and undrafted rookie Brock Wright.
Year 2 under coach Campbell is already off to a fast start, as the head coach noted what looks different from last season.
“The mix in tempos. I think the stuff we are doing, sometimes we are breaking the huddle fast and snapping it, ”Campbell said. “Sometimes we’re in no-huddle. We have the ability to be in no-huddle quite a bit if we need to be, and then we have the ability to slow things down as well. ”
Now with another year in everyone’s belt, including the head coach, there is a sense of rising confidence in the building. Campbell mentioned in this presser a need to stay consistent, and to “have a full grasp of what we are doing offensively.”
Campbell and Johnson have their work cut out for them, installing some new things into the offense. But one thing is for certain – it has been a collaborative effort. “I think the part that was most exciting for me, was the influence he (Ben Johnson) was allowing me to have, asking me, and really curious about what I thought, and what I liked.” Campbell stated. “It’s exciting for me, being in year seven now and feeling like I’ve earned kind of having that voice a little bit that he’s given to me, which has been fun.”
Regardless of what the rest of the league thinks, inside the facility, the entire organization is confident for year two under Campbell. The wide receiver core has improved, the quarterback is more comfortable in the system, the running game and the offensive line are stronger than ever, and of course there is a world-class offensive weapon in Hockenson. It will be interesting to see just how far Johnson can take this team next season. If one thing is for certain, you need to be able to score in many different ways in this league if you want a chance to win. And this year, on paper, is already trending for a massive improvement from last year.