The list of head coaching candidates for the Indianapolis Colts decreased by one with Ben Johnson deciding to return to the Detroit Lions.
On Tuesday, the Indianapolis Colts lost one of their head coaching candidates, Ben Johnson. However, this isn’t because Johnson was hired by another team to be head coach, but because Johnson opted to return to the Detroit Lions as offensive coordinator. It was reported that Johnson believes “Detroit is building something special and wants to see it through.” Under head coach Dan Campbell, the Lions have made a significant turnaround and Ben Johnson as offensive coordinator has been a big part of that.
Johnson was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2022 and he made Detroit one of the best offenses in the league. Under his coordination, the Lions averaged 380 yards a game (fourth-best), and 26.6 points per game (fifth-best). The offense also had a balanced attack, passing for the eighth-most yards a game with 251.8 and rushing for the 11th-most yards a game with 128.2. That’s why Johnson was such a hot candidate this coaching cycle.
Before deciding to return to the Lions, Johnson had already interviewed with the Colts and the Houston Texans and was scheduled for another interview with the Carolina Panthers. The prospect of Johnson coming to Indianapolis excited a lot of fans because Indy’s offense is in desperate need of help. Fans were already imagining the offensive turnaround that could take place with Johnson and a rookie quarterback. Now, Indianapolis must continue its search elsewhere.
With Ben Johnson out, Colts still have several candidates
Luckily for Indy, this decision from Johnson came early in the process. Imagine if the Colts had made the decision to hire Ben Johnson and then he decided at the last minute to return to his previous team. That would’ve been a pretty wild situation. But, that’s not the case, and Indianapolis still has plenty of time to search through its exhaustive list of candidates.
So far, the number of candidates that the Colts have made public is 11. The 11 names are Jeff Saturday, Bubba Ventrone, Dan Quinn, Aaron Glenn, Wink Martindale, Raheem Morris, Eric Bieniemy, Mike Kafka, DeMeco Ryans, Ejiro Evero, and Shane Steichen. Some of those names bring the same excitement that Johnson did, and others are names that fans are hoping the Colts don’t decide to hire.
A decision likely isn’t coming anytime soon and this probably isn’t even the final list of candidates that Indy is interested in. Chris Ballard promised to be thorough and not to rush, and it appears that’s the approach the Colts are taking as they get to know every candidate.