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Falcons announce completed interview with Ben Johnson

What you need to know about Johnson, the Detroit Lions offensive coordinator in 2023.


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Atlanta Falcons have completed a virtual interview with Ben Johnson for the organization's head coach position, the team announced on Sunday, Jan. 21.

The 37-year-old holds 12 years of coaching in the NFL to his name, split between the Miami Dolphins (2012-18) and the Detroit Lions (2022-23). Johnson's Lions are still in the playoff hunt, having defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-23, in the NFC's divisional round. They will play the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game. 

Per NFL protocols, interviews with employees of other clubs must be conducted virtually prior to the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games on Sunday, Jan. 21. If the employer club had a Wild Card bye, virtual interviews had to be conducted prior to the conclusion of Wild Card games.

If the employer club was a Wild Card participant, virtual interviews could begin three days after its Wild Card game and must be conducted prior to the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games.

Beginning Monday, Jan. 22, clubs may conduct in-person or virtual interviews with candidates who are employed by other NFL clubs whose seasons have concluded and are prohibited from conducting initial interviews with candidates who are employed by clubs participating in the Conference Championship Games until the conclusion of the employer club's season.

Let's learn more about someone the Falcons are considering to become the 19th head coach in franchise history.

Interview date: Friday, Jan. 19

Current job: Detroit Lions offensive coordinator

Resume highlights:

  • Boston College, 2009-11: Johnson served as a graduate assistant for two years before earning the role of tight ends coach.
  • Miami Dolphins, 2012-18: Johnson started as an offensive assistant, then transitioned into the assistant quarterbacks coach in 2012. Johnson added tight ends to his responsibilities in 2015. He moved to assistant wide receivers coach from 2016-17 before being promoted to wide receivers coach in his final season.
  • Detroit Lions, 2019-23: Johnson began as the offensive quality control coach but switched to tight ends in his second season and added passing game coordinator to his title in 2021. He became the offensive coordinator in 2022, where he remained this past season.

Why he's a candidate: The Lions have thrived since Johnson became their offensive coordinator. Prior to his promotion in 2022, Detroit was riding a four-year streak of losing records. In the past two seasons, though, the Lions have gone 9-8 and 12-5. The second and most recent record is the reason they remain alive in the title hunt this season.

Also, from last season to this one, Detroit has maintained a high level of offensive success under Johnson. The Lions finished Nos. 4 and 5 in points scored and total yards, respectively, in 2022 and then Nos. 3 and 5 in the same categories at the conclusion of the 2023 regular season.

The Falcons need to find consistency on offense and Johnson has shown he can help with that. The last time Atlanta had a winning season was 2017, same as Detroit before 2022 ended its drought. The Falcons haven't had a top-10 scoring offense since 2018, when it was No. 10 on the dot, or 2016, when it was No. 1. They were able to remain within the top 10 for total yards from 2014-19, but not since. The Falcons were No. 26 for points and No. 17 for yards in 2023.

Johnson has other head-coaching interest, too. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Seattle Seahawks, the Tennessee Titans, the Washington Commanders, the Carolina Panthers and the Los Angeles Chargers all requested to interview Johnson for their head coaching jobs.

Including the Falcons, that's six teams.

"It's awesome," Johnson said the Thursday before the Lions' wild-card playoff, according to the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala. "Quite an honor. But honestly, I haven't thought about it beyond anything that's going on this week, so just leave it at that for right now."

Strikes against: None of major note.

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