Fresh Ben Johnson revelations prove the Carolina Panthers got lucky

All is not what it seemed where Ben Johnson is concerned...

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Fresh insider revelations about Ben Johnson prove the Carolina Panthers got lucky with their decision to look elsewhere for a new head coach.

Dave Canales was the man chosen to become Carolina Panthers head coach. Some were looking for a bigger name or a more coveted candidate to steer the franchise in a positive direction at long last. In particular, alluring eyes were on Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.

Many deemed Johnson as David Tepper's top target. He was a primary candidate during the last cycle before pulling out. The billionaire was expected to make a bold bid once again to bring the South Carolina native home.

The Panthers pulled out of the running in favor of Canales. Others did the same in quick succession. This was seemingly down to league-wide belief that Johnson was heading to the Washington Commanders. In a shocking turn of events, the play-caller informed their hiring committee he wouldn't attend the second interview while they were en route to Detroit.

Carolina Panthers were seemingly right about Ben Johnson

Johnson claimed that he wanted to see out the project with Dan Campbell. He wants to win a Super Bowl next season after coming agonizingly close this season. While he handled the situation terribly, there were seemingly legitimate reasons behind spurning head coaching advances for the second straight cycle.

However, all might not be so clear-cut.

Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network - who doesn't just throw things out there for the sake of it - provided some fresh revelations on Johnson based on information acquired through sources via USA Today Sports. The respected insider suggested he didn't interview well. He also suggested he was jumping before being pushed, especially with teams who pulled out earlier such as the Panthers. He was not seen as a genuine leader of men.

"I don’t think he interviewed particularly well. [Ben] Johnson withdrew, and he withdrew as Washington was coming to see him, which did not go over well at all with the Washington organization. But, I believe he withdrew from two coaching searches that he wouldn’t have gotten the job anyway. So, that’s the old ‘I’m not fired, I quit,’ one of those deals. So, I don’t think he really bowled people over in the interview process at all. And I’ve heard that his personality, you know, he’s very smart, very bright, a great play-caller, but I’ve heard that his personality is kind of…..not the most gregarious guy. Not a Mike Macdonald-type guy or even a Dan Quinn-type guy, so I think that came across in the interview process."

Mike Garafolo via USA Today Sports

It's funny what comes out in the wash sometimes. Johnson was the hottest name in this year's cycle. He had several interview requests to navigate. We'll never know for sure how things went during his meetings. We can all agree the way he handled things with the Commanders was an extremely bad look. One that is unlikely to go unnoticed during the next hiring cycle.

After the disappointment of not landing Johnson, the Panthers might have caught a lucky break if Garafolo's report is accurate.

Based on Canales' passion, articulation, and energy during his introductory presser, there is no chance he interviewed poorly. He's got an aligned vision with Dan Morgan. There is a new structure in place that doesn't involve David Tepper meddling in the football operation. Following one of the worst seasons in franchise history, there is officially light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

The Commanders pivoted to Dan Quinn, who is a bonafide leader and widely respected around the league. As for Johnson? He'll take everything in his stride and focus his attention on helping the Lions take one final leap to the promised land.

But the Panthers' decision to remove themselves from this equation is looking better by the day.

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