The Washington Commanders appear poised to hire Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson as their next head coach. Multiple NFL insiders have predicted Johnson to be Washington’s top choice since firing Ron Rivera earlier this month.
The Commanders have interviewed at least eight candidates and began second in-person interviews this week. Four of Washington’s top candidates couldn’t have interviews this week because their teams were coaching in the AFC and NFC Championship games.
Johnson is one of those coaches. Washington will reportedly fly to Detroit early next week to interview Johnson in person. The Commanders also plan to interview Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn a second time.
Another coach Washington will speak to next week is Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. There was some confusion if next week’s meeting was a second or third, but Quinn’s interview this week was pushed into next week.
Throughout Washington’s coaching search, Johnson has been the name most connected to the Commanders from the outside. However, Quinn and former Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris were also heavily mentioned as Washington’s next potential head coach.
On Friday, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network discussed the remaining two coaching openings: The Commanders and Seattle Seahawks. Quinn, a former Seattle defensive coordinator before becoming the Falcons’ head coach in 2015, is reportedly a finalist for the Seahawks’ opening.
Rapoport believes that Quinn is a serious contender for both jobs.
“Dan Quinn certainly seems to be a prime candidate at both spots, so it is obviously a real possibility the Cowboys end up losing their defensive coordinator,” Rapoport said.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 26, 2024
Rapoport acknowledged Johnson as Quinn’s biggest competition for Washington’s next coach, but he didn’t necessarily call Johnson the favorite, as everyone else has.
So, how serious is Washington about making Quinn its next head coach?
Quinn is certainly worthy. However, the Cowboys have been eliminated from the playoffs for two weeks. Why would Washington wait if it were intent on Quinn as the top choice? Sure, the Commanders may want to speak to some of the other coaches in this weekend’s championship games to ensure Quinn is their pick. But if Washington felt that way, why would you give Seattle a chance to hire him?
Most NFL insiders haven’t been shy about going on the record to call Johnson the heavy favorite. Heck, he’s been the betting favorite for weeks. If the Lions lose to the 49ers on Sunday, the Commanders can hire Johnson next week. If Washington travels to Detroit and makes progress with Johnson, does it even interview Quinn again?
Johnson is clearly the Commanders’ top choice. If Quinn were their top choice, they would likely already have a deal in place. Instead, Washington is wisely keeping its options open if things fall through with Johnson.