Ben Johnson just gave the Chargers a dream offensive coordinator on a silver platter

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Back when the possibility of hiring Jim Harbaugh just seemed like a dream, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was viewed as the preferred choice to be the next head coach of the LA Chargers.

Then the Harbaugh speculation turned real and it became clear that Johnson was no longer the No. 1 choice for the head coaching job. Still, as the most sought-after offensive coordinator in the sport, many assumed that Johnson would land a great gig this cycle.

That is not the case. The Detroit Lions made it to the NFC Championship Game, which definitely delayed the process. With just the Seattle and Washington jobs open, Johnson once again decided to return to Detroit to finish what he started. Johnson, surprisingly, will not be a head coach in 2024.

Maybe Johnson only wanted to coach Justin Herbert and that dream was dashed by Harbaugh. However, another member of the Lions coaching staff could benefit from this and end up coaching Herbert himself. By staying in Detroit, Johnson is opening the door for the Chargers to hire a dream offensive coordinator.

Tanner Engstrand just became a much more likely Chargers offensive coordinator candidate

By hiring Tanner Engstrand, the Chargers would be able to get the best of both worlds. Los Angeles would be getting the prolific head coaching hire in Harbaugh while also getting a sprinkle of the Johnson offensive philosophy.

Engstrand is the Lions' passing game coordinator and was expected to step into the offensive coordinator role in Detroit if Johnson were to leave. With Johnson maintaining his post, it opens the door for Engstrand to pursue a promotion elsewhere.

What makes Engstrand so enticing isn't just the fact that he is coming from Johnson's offense, it is that he has ties to Harbaugh already. Engstrand is a San Diego native and actually got his coaching start under Harbaugh at the University of San Diego. If there was ever an offensive coordinator to hire, it is the SD native who has ties to the head coach.

The only thing that may step in the way of hiring Engstrand is any loyalty to the Lions. Johnson obviously wants to finish what he started in Detroit and it would not be unheard of if Engstrand wants to do the same thing.

But in the same breath, he would have just as good of a chance to contend with Justin Herbert as his quarterback. Additionally, the best thing for his career projection would be to get out of Johnson's shadow and coach an elite quarterback with a great head coach. After two years of that, he could be the one vying for a head coach job.

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