(FOX 2) - After the exciting Detroit Lions 2022-2023 season fans are still feeling the hype.
With many looking forward to next season and a potential division title, there are more reasons to be a happy Lions fan than ever. A major plus is Offensive Coordinator Ben Johnson telling Detroit he is staying instead of leaving for a prized NFL head coaching job.
Johnson, 36, started his Lions tenure in 2019 as the offensive quality control coach. He was the tight ends coach from 2020 to 2021 and became OC in 2022.
Johnson became a contender this year for multiple head coaching vacancies, including being the odds-on favorite to get the Denver Broncos or Carolina Panthers job earlier this month.
He not only is a part of making the Lions' offense better from this season, but he is responsible for a top-five offense in the league in yards per game.
Here are four more reasons Lions fans should be elated for Johnson to come back.
Jared Goff is a Top Ten QB in the NFL
Fans, TV analysts, former coaches and talking heads everywhere were screaming for the Lions to draft a quarterback instead of continuing with Goff.
After the past season, those screaming are quiet and can’t wait to see what the Lions quarterback can do next season.
Goff finished 1st in TD/INT ratio, 2nd in passes over 25 yards, tied for 5th in passing touchdowns, 6th in passing yards and 7th in quarterback passer rating, according to Detroit Lions PR on Twitter.
Before Johnson took over, Goff was below average at best. Now he is the Lions starter for years to come.
No Hockenson? No problem
After Lions traded former first round pick TJ Hockenson, the production from the tight end department looked bleak at best. Johnson created an offensive scheme where it does not matter who is playing the position there will be results.
Here are the numbers for every tight end not drafted too early by Bob Quinn in 2019:
- Brock Wright: 18 receptions, 216 yards, 4 touchdowns.
- James Mitchell: 11 receptions, 113 yards, 1 touchdown.
- Shane Zylstra: 11 receptions, 60 yards, 4 touchdowns.
Total: 40 receptions, 386 yards, 9 touchdowns.
Clearly the receptions and yards numbers could be better, but nine total touchdowns after trading your best tight end is impressive. Under Johnson’s offense any tight end is considered a red zone target, even you.
Short yardage isn’t a problem anymore
Being a Lions fan for a depressing 26 years can make one nervous when their team is stuck with a "3rd and 1" or 4th and goal from the 1."
With a great offensive line and two amazing running backs, there's reason to believe short yardage is not a problem anymore. Jamaal Williams broke Barry Sanders’ record for rushing touchdowns in a single season.
Out of the 17 touchdowns Williams’ scored, 13 of them were from two yards or less. De’Andre Swift also had multiple short yardage touchdowns behind and arguably top ten offensive line in the league.
With the short yard problems not giving fans a headache anymore, Detroit can go for it more on 4th and short because of the success rate.
Josh Reynolds, Khalif Raymond and Amon Ra St. Brown
Johnson’s offense includes a lot of play-action and short passes. That strategy is beneficial with the wide receivers on the team.
St. Brown and Raymond are smaller, faster wide-outs who can make tacklers miss in the open field. Johnson designed an offense that makes receivers open and able to rack yards-after-the-catch moments to help the offense move down the field.
Reynolds as a bigger receiver, enabling him to make catches in the red zone with short out routes and quick slants.
The numbers back up these three benefiting from Johnson’s offense.
- Amon Ra St. Brown: 106 receptions, 1,161 yards, 6 touchdowns.
- Khalif Raymond: 47 receptions, 616 yards.
- Josh Reynolds: 38 receptions, 479 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Total: 191 receptions, 2,256 9 touchdowns.
The best part? These numbers do not include the rushing yards from St. Brown and Raymond.
The even better part? We have not even seen what Jameson Williams can do yet. Adding Jameson Williams to this offense will guarantee the Lions scoring 30+ points a game next season on the road to winning the division title.