NFL insiders Mike Florio and Adam Schefter

Despite this offseason’s NFL coaching cycle including several high profile candidates — including arguably the greatest head coach of all time — Ben Johnson remained one of the league’s hottest commodities.

So it understandably came as a surprise to many when the 37-year-old announced earlier this week that he will be returning as the Detroit Lions’ offensive coordinator next season, despite being linked to the Washington Commanders and Seattle Seahawks’ head coaching vacancies.

In particular, many expected Johnson to land in Washington, where he would team with new general manager Adam Peters. Taking to X (formerly Twitter) after the news of Johnson’s return to Detroit was first reported, ESPN’s Adam Schefter implied that the former UNC walk-on quarterback’s decision might not have been his alone to make.

“Ben Johnson was not the head-coaching lock that people thought and his asking price spooked some teams, per sources,” Schefter wrote.

Appearing on 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio took issue with Schefter’s reporting. Specifically, Florio criticized the lack of context and one-sided nature of the ESPN insider’s post.

“I want to preface this by saying there was once a time Adam Schefter and I are friends, we currently aren’t. I’m just amazed that he can get away with stuff that others can’t get away with. And I’m not saying he’s going to get away with this, I’m pointing it out currently.” Florio said on Bernstein & Holmes.  “Throwing out there the idea that Ben Johnson’s asking price spooked teams with no further information, with no further context, with no opportunity for Johnson or his agent to respond to this suggestion, seems irresponsible to me. And I would get dragged if I did it.

“But you put this out there to 10.7 million followers on X and it’s treated as gospel. ‘Ben Johnson is unreasonable, Ben Johnson is unrealistic, Ben Johnson is too big for his britches.’ I want to know more about this. What was the number? Is it reasonable to be spooked by the amount Ben Johnson supposedly wanted? Is it 10, is it 15, is it 20 million? I don’t know. And is it true, or is it just face-saving by the Commanders, who had been linked so closely to Ben Johnson?

“[Johnson] says no, ‘It still smells like Dan Snyder in here’ or words to that effect, stays in Detroit, and now they make it about him and not about them. So that one tweet has a lot of curiosity that it sparks. And I feel like it’s not something that you put out there without more — and at a minimum, without giving Johnson a chance to refute it, explain it, comment on it, confirm it, whatever.”

This isn’t the first time Schefter has been accused of carrying water for teams. And while one could argue whether it’s realistic to get both sides of a story for every report — especially one shared on social media — at a minimum, Schefter’s post ideally would have been more specific about the sources he was citing.

For what it’s worth, Schefter later made a more elaborate post in which he noted that Johnson’s decision was, in fact, surprising and that Commanders brass was en route to Detroit to meet with him (and Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) when it received the news. Perhaps Schefter figured that it goes without saying that he was sharing Washington’s side of the story, which many — Florio included — would likely argue is a problem in and of itself.

[670 The Score]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.