Jim Hostler is entering his 24th NFL season coaching and his first as the Detroit Lions' senior offensive assistant after spending the past three seasons with the Washington Commanders, serving as their senior offensive assistant from 2021-22 and wide receivers coach in 2020.
Hostler, 56, has held just about every offensive coaching job there is in the NFL over the course of his career at 11 different stops. The youth and enthusiasm of the coaching staff here and the intelligence of offensive coordinator Ben Johnson are what stood out to him about his current opportunity in Detroit
"When you get older and you start to be my age ... your lifeblood is the younger coaches," Hostler said Wednesday. "You start to look around and notice. You're watching how they coach their teams. How they play. Because those are the kind of guys you want to attach yourself to so you can further your career."
View photos from Wednesday's media availability with the newest Detroit Lions coaches.
Hostler didn't know Johnson or anyone on Detroit's staff, but his name came up when the Lions started hiring for the position, and someone Johnson trusted mentioned Hostler. That led to a conversation and then an interview, and now he'll play a role in helping Detroit continue to be one of the most explosive offensive football teams in the league.
Detroit finished last season ranked fourth in total offense, racking up at least 4,000 passing yards and 2,000 yards on the ground for the first time in franchise history. It earned quarterback Jared Goff, wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, tackle Penei Sewell and center Frank Ragnow trips to the Pro Bowl.
Hostler said one of his biggest early takeaways working with Johnson is how Johnson can take a complicated scheme and make it easy to learn. Not just for the players but coaches too.
"He's really smart," Hostler said of Johnson. "He's a lot smarter than me. He's a really smart guy. He's a football guy. He's coached a lot of different things in his background and been around a lot of really good coaches and that's how you sort of become the coach you are at such a young age (36).
"He understands the game from a football standpoint. Also, he understands the complexity of it and how to make it simpler. This game is a very complex game there's a lot of moving parts and a lot of things going on. The guys that really have a gift are the guys that can take those complex things and make them simpler. And he can do that. Simple things show up on their tape, but they show up at the right time in the right fashion. That's kind of the brilliance of it."
Johnson's ability to make things simple and build relationships with his players and coaches, has Hostler excited to be part of what he thinks can be a really fun offense to watch in 2023.
View photos of NFL prospect Lukas Van Ness.
Hostler's role in Detroit is still kind of being defined as he learns the scheme and the players, and gets a feel for Johnson's process. Hostler also said Johnson is still getting a feel for how his two decades of NFL offensive coaching experience and background fits in Detroit.
"I'm so fortunate to be here," Hostler said. "When you watch film, you can see when guys are playing with detail and purpose. From a coach's standpoint, those things are naturally engrained when you watch (film) ... and those are the things that are sticking out."