Now that the LA Chargers have hired their next head coach in Brandon Staley, the front office’s focus has turned to hiring a coaching staff around him.
Thus far, we know that the Chargers are bringing Joe Barry with Staley from the Los Angeles Rams to be the team’s defensive passing game coordinator. The Bolts also hired Bears defensive line coach Jay Rodgers, who worked with Staley in Chicago in 2017 and 2018.
There are going to be even more hires made, especially considering the fact that notable coaches, such as offensive line coach James Campen, have already been reported to not be returning to the team in 2021. This is going to be a near-complete revamp with Staley’s new vision.
The most important hire is the offensive coordinator. With Staley being a former defensive coordinator who is taking up responsibilities on that side of the ball, the LA Chargers’ offensive coordinator is going to be hugely impactful as they will be tasked with maximizing Justin Herbert’s skill set.
We already broke down some potential candidates that had ties to Staley when he was first hired, although new candidates have since emerged.
The LA Chargers have requested to interview New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach, Joe Lombardi.
Jeff Duncan of The Athletic first reported that the LA Chargers and Seattle Seahawks had requested to interview New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach, Joe Lombardi. And of course, like the other hires, there is a connection to Staley.
Lombardi was the offensive coordinator of Mercyhurst University when Staley played quarterback there. He coached there from 2002-2005 before joining the Atlanta Falcons in 2006 as a defensive assistant. He has not left the NFL since.
Lombardi has spent most of his career with the New Orleans Saints, where has been the quarterbacks coach for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. He was an offensive assistant in 2007 and 2008 before taking over that role in 2009, one he held through 2013.
He returned to the Saints in 2016 and has held the same role since. In between the two stints, Lombardi spent a season and a half as the offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. He only made it seven games into his second season in Detroit, but quite frankly, that should not worry you about him coming to LA.
The Lions went 11-5 in Lombardi’s first season as offensive coordinator — the best record the team has had since 1991. However, that record is a bit misleading and was not a product of Lombardi.
The Lions ranked 22nd in the league in points per game (20.1) and ranked 19th in total yards. Detroit was better the previous year, ranking 13th in points per game (24.7) and sixth in total yards.
The first seven games of the following season were not pretty, either. The Lions were 1-6 and a big part of the reason why is because they only averaged 19.9 points per game. They scored fewer than 20 points in five of those first seven games. The Lions’ offense didn’t get significantly better after Lombardi was fired, but it did average 24.3 points per game.
Matthew Stafford was not all that great in the 23 games that he started under Lombardi, either. In those 23 games, Stafford averaged 266 yards per game with a 61.73 completion percentage, 34 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Compare that to his next 23 games where he averaged 265.9 yards with a 67.34 completion percentage, 42 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
He was not much worse with Lombardi by any means, but he certainly was better once Lombardi left the offense.
Lombardi also completely failed to establish any sort of run game in Detroit. Granted, he did not have the most notable backs, but the Lions ranked 28th in rushing yards and 29th in yards per average in 2014.
I get that the last thing Charger fans want is someone who is going to run the ball a lot but you still need to establish some sort of running game. Look at the Kansas City Chiefs. They rank 16th in total rushing yards and 12th in yards per attempt. An average run game goes a long way for the offense.
Lombardi does get a great rub from working with Drew Brees and helping turn him into the Hall of Famer he is today. However, this in my opinion, is the classic case of giving a coach too much credit for being adjacent to a spectacular player.
Brees was just as good when Lombardi was not the quarterbacks coach and quite frankly, I think Sean Payton deserves more credit for Brees’ success than Lombardi does.