Pep Hamilton got the short end of the stick in Chargers' Joe Lombardi debacle

Jason Reed
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
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After a breakout rookie season that was never seemingly meant to happen, the LA Chargers brought in a new coaching staff to maximize the freakish raw talent that Justin Herbert obviously had. Brandon Staley was hired as the team's new head coach and he brought some of his friends along with him, including new offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi.

The first season under Lombardi was solid. While fans had their complaints about a perceived lack of deep passes, the offense ranked in the top five in every important metric. It was then pitched to Chargers fans that year two in this offense would be even more special.

It wasn't. The team took a pretty big step back offensively and Joe Lombardi somehow made Herbert worse. It all boiled over with the team's 27-0 blown lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars as Lombardi and passing game coordinator Shane Day were fired on Tuesday.

Now the Chargers will search for their next offensive coordinator. At the very same time, Herbert's offensive coordinator in 2020 — Shane Steichen — is a potential head coach candidate. This is frustrating for Chargers fans who have watched this offense struggle more than it should this season.

This worked out for Steichen as he is coaching on a great Philadelphia Eagles team and is getting head coaching buzz. It did not work out well for another prominent coach on the Chargers' offensive staff in 2020 — Pep Hamilton.

It would have been best for all parties if Pep Hamilton stayed with the Chargers after 2020.

Pep Hamilton was the Chargers' quarterbacks coach during Herbert's rookie season and it appeared as if he played a prominent role in Herbert's early success. Herbert himself said that he spoke to management about possibly keeping Hamilton and/or Steichen after the team fired Anthony Lynn.

There was an avenue for the Chargers to promote Hamilton to offensive coordinator after the 2020 season. At least then Herbert would have a familiar face calling the plays and would have something he has never really had: continuity. Instead, Hamilton went on to join the Houston Texans staff and was promoted to offensive coordinator before the 2022 season.

Whether or not Hamilton would have worked in LA can never be answered. However, it is important to note that he didn't just have a big impact on Herbert in his rookie year. He also played a key role in Andrew Luck's college and professional success. Herbert has been compared to Luck perhaps more so than any other former quarterback in the league.

If it didn't work out then it would not have been much different than if Lombardi was hired. And at least then Herbert would be going from one offensive system to another, not his third offensive season in his fourth pro season.

MORE: 5 Chargers who just played their last snap in LA

As for Hamilton, he had very little to work with with the Texans. Next year might be different with Bryce Young potentially in town. But Hamilton lasting until then is not a guarantee with the Texans undergoing a head coaching change. That is not Hamilton's fault.

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