Detroit Lions may already have Ben Johnson 2.0

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson gave the team and the fans quite a scare not too long ago when news surfaced that he was interviewing for multiple head-coaching positions. Thankfully, Johnson ended up deciding to stick around with the Lions, but you can bet head coach Dan Campbell has already begun to think about life after Johnson. But maybe the Lions already have Ben Johnson 2.0 in passing-game coordinator Tanner Engstrand.

Detroit Lions 2023 NFL Mock Draft Ben Johnson 2.0

Why it Matters

As the Lions continue to rebuild and try to get back to their winning ways, having a strong coaching staff is essential. Johnson has been instrumental in helping quarterback Jared Goff get acclimated to the Lions' offense, and his departure would be a significant blow. It's never too early to start thinking about a replacement, and Engstrand may just be Ben Johnson 2.0.

Ben Johnson raves about Tanner Engstrand

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Johnson has nothing but praise for Engstrand, saying he is somebody he can trust to relay information to the players. Engstrand has been with the Lions since 2019, serving as an offensive quality control coach before being promoted to tight ends coach, and now passing-game coordinator. In his new role, Engstrand hopes to help the Lions' passing attack, which was one of the best in the NFL in 2022.

Via Detroit News:

“A guy like Tanner really came through in a big way for us last year because I can trust him. I know what he's going to relay to the players is going to be within my voice, within Dan's voice; we're all saying the same thing. I think that's the biggest thing with not only Tanner, but with the rest of the staff. As long as you can trust these guys, you're in that same boat together and everyone is rowing the same direction, you're going to have a chance. 

“I really think Tanner grew as we went along, too. I could trust him to run some meetings maybe where I'm trying to get a jump ahead for the next day or the next practice. He could take that pass-game pod — the receivers, the quarterbacks, the tight ends — and make sure they were crossing the T's and dotting the I's.”

The Bottom Line

While it's unclear when Johnson will eventually move on, it's comforting to know that the Lions may already have his replacement on staff. Engstrand has impressed in his short time with the team, and his ability to help the passing game thrive is a testament to his coaching acumen. If Johnson were to leave, it's easy to see Engstrand stepping up and taking on a larger role within the Lions' coaching staff. With him in the mix, the Lions can continue to build toward a bright future.

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