LA Chargers: Getting to know Brandon Staley’s coordinators

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(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) – LA Chargers /

The LA Chargers have found their three coordinators for Brandon Staley’s staff. Joe Lombardi will replace Shane Steichen as offensive coordinator. Derius Swinton II and Renaldo Hill will take over the vacant special teams and defensive coordinator spots:

building out the staff ?

— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 25, 2021

This is the first time that the Chargers have cleaned house with the coordinators since Mike McCoy in 2013. When Anthony Lynn was hired in 2017, the team retained Ken Whisenhunt until he was fired in 2019.

LA Chargers OC Joe Lombardi

Joe Lombardi is coming to Los Angeles for a promotion to offensive coordinator. New Orleans hired him to be the quarterbacks coach for the Saints in 2009 after being an offensive assistant for two seasons with the team. Drew Brees’ dominance in Lombardi’s first stint was noticeable.

The Saints won the Super Bowl in his first season as quarterbacks coach. In 2011, Brees set the NFL single-season passing yards record that would later be broken by Peyton Manning.

Lombardi was then hired as Jim Caldwell’s offensive coordinator with the Lions in 2014. Detroit had their best season in decades in that season. They would finish 11-5, good enough to earn a wild card spot in the playoffs. In terms of how Lombardi did as OC, he was fine.

The Lions were middle of the pack in total offense at 17th in the league, but he did an amazing job with Matthew Stafford that season. Stafford’s only Pro Bowl selection was the 2014 Lombardi season.

In 2015, the Lions were looking to build on their 2014 momentum. Unfortunately for Lombardi and many other members of the Lions staff, they were canned after a 1-6 start. That season is where the concern comes from many Chargers fans in relation to the Lombardi hire.

Detroit averaged 19.9 points per game in the first seven games, which was good enough for 26th in the league by the end of the season.

Lombardi returned to the Saints in 2016 as quarterbacks coach. His work with Brees was once again phenomenal. Brees had his final 5000-yard season under Lombardi in 2016 and then pivoted towards accuracy with a declining arm. Brees’ accuracy improved by multiple percentage points each season with his yards per attempt not declining from where it had been.

In addition to his work with Brees, one has to take into account his work with the other Saints’ quarterbacks. Teddy Bridgewater revived his career with the Saints when he went undefeated following a Brees injury, earning himself a good contract in Carolina.

Taysom Hill is a quarterback who became a bit of a swiss army knife for the Saints over the years.  Instead of just focusing on Brees, Lombardi made every quarterback in the New Orleans’ quarterback room much better.

While I understand the concern of the Chargers fans when it comes to Lombardi’s Detroit tenure, he’s done enough to be worthy of a second chance. The potential to bring a Saints-style offense to the Chargers is incredibly appealing. In his Tuesday press conference, Lombardi compared Keenan Allen to Michael Thomas and Austin Ekeler to the likes Alvin Kamara/Reggie Bush/Darren Sproles.

It could become a truly lethal offense when you consider Herbert’s age and arm talent relative to Brees’ current form. There’s reasons to be skeptical of Lombardi’s hire, but there are also reasons to be excited.