Lions OC Ben Johnson says NFL official gave him a play idea, and he might use it

Andy Reid isn't the only NFL coach who can get a play from an unusual source.

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was asked Saturday about the craziest play from which he's pulled a design, days after the Kansas City Chiefs head coach went viral when he revealed he once got a touchdown decades ago on a play he got from a janitor.

Turns out Johnson's answer came from only a few weeks ago, and from a source that might raise some eyebrows in the league office. Apparently, an NFL official once spent five minutes pitching Johnson on a play during a joint practice against the Jacksonville Jaguars last month.

From Pride of Detroit:

“I think we were practicing against Jacksonville a couple weeks ago, and it’s a special teams period,” Johnson said. “And one of the officials walked up to me, and I still have the diagram in my office. It’s a piece (of paper). He’s got 11 guys written up, and he literally took the entire special teams period — it was over five minutes — talking about how this play would work out.”

Apparently, the play was a good one. So good, in fact, that Johnson declined to provide any specifics, but pledged to give credit if the team ever uses it.

“It’s a good idea. It’s a little bit out of the box. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it happen before,” Johnson said.

Johnson said if the Lions do end up running the play, he’ll be sure to let everyone know about it.

“I’ll let you guys (know). I’ve got to give credit where it’s due.”

It's probably worth remembering that officials can enjoy football, too, and they spend a lot of time talking to coaches on the sideline. The NFL might not like its arbiters outright helping one of its teams, though, so crediting an official for that play if it succeeds might not be the best look.

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson addresses the media before an NFL football practice, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Allen Park, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Ben Johnson had an interesting talk with an NFL official a few weeks ago. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Play sources aside, there is still plenty to be excited about this year with the Lions' offense, which ranked fourth in yards gained and fifth in points scored last year and added first-round running back Jahmyr Gibbs. The Lions will play in the NFL season opener against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.