Commanders clear another major hurdle in Ben Johnson quest

Ben Johnson's path to the Commanders just got clearer...

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Washington Commanders have cleared another hurdle in the team's anticipated quest to make Ben Johnson their next head coach.

It seems like the Washington Commanders are playing the waiting game before announcing their next head coach. Those in power are keen to speak with coaches involved in championship weekend before making something official. Many expect Ben Johnson to be the primary target of Josh Harris and Adam Peters when it's all said and done.

If this is the chosen path, it just got a lot clearer.

Johnson was the hottest name in this year's cycle. He received numerous requests to interview - including the Commanders. One of the biggest potential wrenches in Washington's quest to land the Detroit Lions offensive coordinator officially went in a different direction.

Commanders have less competition for Ben Johnson

According to multiple reports, the Carolina Panthers are set to make Dave Canales their head coach. Most expected incompetent billionaire owner David Tepper to throw his almost unlimited financial wealth at Johnson in the hope of a homecoming. Even this bottomless pit wasn't enough to tempt the progressive play-caller into working with such erratic management.

The fact Johnson accepted second interviews with the Commanders and Atlanta Falcons tells its own story where the Panthers are concerned. Tepper's reputation preceded him during this cycle. Something that led him to Canales and an in-house promotion for their general manager - Dan Morgan - despite his involvement in their woeful roster building over the last three years.

Carolina Panthers
Ben Johnson / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

This is a problem the Commanders have been used to in the past. Thankfully, that's no longer the case.

Dan Snyder is no longer complicating matters. Harris has already landed the most coveted general manager candidate in Peters. If he can do the same with Johnson, it'll make the entire league sit up and take notice. That includes free agents who might start looking at the Commanders differently.

One could make a strong case that the Commanders are a far more enticing destination than the Panthers even if Tepper's reputation wasn't so tarnished. They are covering all bases by holding second interviews with other candidates, but this seems like an open goal in no uncertain terms.

The Falcons could also be out. Reports indicate they are about to make Raheem Morris their next head coach. That's two potential destinations for Johnson no longer in the equation.

The Commanders are going to meet with Aaron Glenn and Anthony Weaver next week, too. Dan Quinn is also scheduled, but the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator is seen to be a leading contender for the Seattle Seahawks vacancy. Forming contingency plans is the smart way to go about things, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out who's the No. 1 option at this juncture.

Tepper isn't known for not getting his way. For him to concede defeat in his long-standing pursuit of Johnson - which began during the last cycle - almost guarantees he's been told by the coach's representatives that the interest isn't mutual. It might be a two-horse race, but the Falcons are also casting a wide net to find the correct man capable of getting them over the hump.

We are rapidly approaching the endgame. Something could become official early next week. This would represent good timing with the Senior Bowl getting underway and other pre-draft assessment events on the immediate horizon. Peters wants an aligned vision between Washington's front office and the coaching staff. The sooner Johnson is hired, the better.

Looking at the current state of affairs around the NFL, that might not be too far away.