Commanders HC candidate led NFL in this type of TDs in 2023

In Friday’s Commanders’ head-coaching search came this tweet from John Keim.

Johnson is a prime candidate to become a head coach during this 2024 hiring cycle. One of the features of Johnson’s running game has been his play-action game. In fact, the Lions led the NFL in touchdowns from play-action while their quarterback was under center.

One memorable feature is that Johnson is content to not gain much yardage on many runs. He continues to call for run plays in the course of games when the Lions are actually having difficulty running.


He firmly believes that if you run it enough, the defense will take your run game seriously. Consequently, incorporating the play-action fake will increase your odds of hitting some key passing plays later in a game.

In 2022, late in a game against the Vikings, Johnson and the Lions led Minnesota 31-23 at the two-minute warning. However, the Lions faced a 3rd & 7. Johnson did not simply want to run the ball on 3rd 7, most likely giving the ball back to Kirk Cousins with more than enough time to score late.

Johnson had Pro Bowl tackle Penei Sewell go in motion and be the lead blocker for a simple off-tackle run that only gained one yard. On 2nd & 9, Johnson had a receiver go in motion for a simple dive play up the middle for a mere two yards, setting the stage for the 3rd & 7 play.

Johnson could have safely called for another run between the tackles, forcing the Vikings to use one of their remaining timeouts and then punt the ball deep to the Vikings.

Quarterback Jared Goff was again under center, sending Sewell again in motion. Goff took the snap, this time faked the between-the-tackles running play, looked up, and fired a pass to, of all people, Sewell, who was understandably wide open in the flat for the first down.

Move the chains, the Vikings use up their last time out, and the Lions run out the clock; Lions win.

Meanwhile, Washington offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. in 2023, came under heavy criticism for repeatedly choosing to have Sam Howell drop back, too often not employing a play-action fake, nor having Brian Robinson run the ball enough to take off some of the pass rush towards Howell.


Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire