Are NFL teams looking at the wrong Lions coordinator?

The NFLPA recently polled 1,700 NFL players and asked them to rate the coordinators they play for on a scale of 1-10. The responses that this got are very interesting. Interesting enough to the point where I think there might be a chance the NFL is looking at the wrong Lions coordinator when it comes to finding their new head coach. 

There’s no secret that Ben Johnson is good at his job. While he didn’t make the top five of the offensive coordinator poll, that doesn’t mean he didn’t receive good marks from his players. That also doesn’t mean that he can’t be a head coach. But the big question that nobody is asking here is besides coordinating a good offense, have we seen enough from Johnson to say that he can helm an entire team? 

When it comes to coaching, it’s more than just the stats that get put up. You have to be able to handle 53 players and you have to be able to install a culture into the locker room. You need guys to buy in. Once again, I’m not saying I don’t think Johnson can do that. What I’m saying is that we haven’t seen it happen yet. I can’t recall a time that I looked at Johnson and thought of him as a leader. 

What we have seen, and all that we have heard for years now, is that Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is a leader of men. This poll of 1,700 players making him the most voted for coordinator in the league tells you a lot. It tells you that there’s a proven track record of a group of guys that have bought into what Glenn is selling and that they trust and believe in their coordinator. 

Do the Lions have a middling defense? Yes they do. This is one of the youngest groups in the league and they have shown improvement every year. They’re also middling despite dealing with some talent issues. While fans have given up on Glenn, the players never have. Some GM’s will only look at the surface level of things and that’s understandable, but I think more will look beyond that and see the value. 

Offense and analytics is the king of the NFL when it comes to hiring right now, but that’s slowly starting to change. There’s been a lot of “offensive guru’s” or analytics guys that have gotten head coaching jobs and then several of them didn’t work out. It happens every year. The future might not be to just revert to the other side with a defensive minded coach necessarily, but it might to focus on who can lead a locker room and who can get players to believe in them.

Guys like Dan Campbell and Antonio Pierce have recently shown that instilling a culture in a locker room can take you a long way. Campbell could win Coach of the Year this year an Antonio Pierce should get the head coaching job with the Raiders. Especially since big time players are openly giving him their vote. Neither of these guys are analytics experts or gurus on their side of the ball, they’re just leaders. 

That’s why Aaron Glenn should get head coaching interviews this offseason and why he has a pretty good chance of securing a job. 

Now, if he doesn’t and he returns to Detroit, the Lions can use this poll to their benefit. There’s going to be plenty of defensive free agents that would love to play for a winning team with a good culture and a strong leader. 

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