Someone had to be the scapegoat after the LA Chargers blew a 27-0 lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars and it became Joe Lombardi. Lombardi is more than just a scapegoat, though, as the Chargers' offense struggled far more than it should have in 2022 with Justin Herbert under center.
Lombardi and passing game coordinator Shane Day were both fired from the team and Herbert will now learn his third offense in four years in the NFL.
It is imperative that the Bolts make the right offensive coordinator hire for Herbert and the offense. Brandon Staey and Tom Telesco have their jobs on the line next season and if they hire someone as bad or worse than Lombardi then they too will be getting the boot a year from now.
While there are several promising options, there still is the concern that the Chargers will make the wrong decision. One name that no Charger fan wants to see is Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired in his first season as the Denver Broncos head coach. It might seem far-fetched, but as Daniel Popper of The Athletic (subscription required) lays out, he could be an option.
"According to a league source, Lombardi was Staley's fourth choice for offensive coordinator when he was building his staff in 2021. During that hiring cycle, the Chargers had contact with Mike McDaniel, then the 49ers run game coordinator, Kevin O'Connell, then the Rams offensive coordinator, and Nathaniel Hackett, then the Packers offensive coordinator, the source said."
Popper continues to break down how Hackett comes from the same coaching tree, with Hackett coaching under Matt LaFleur (who comes from the Shanahan coaching tree) for two years in Green Bay.
Hiring Nathaniel Hackett would be a massive mistake by the Chargers.
Some coaches can be great coordinators but horrible head coaches. That would be the positive spin if the Bolts were to hire Hackett as the offensive coordinator. In reality, though, the Chargers should not be the team that is finding out whether or not Hackett can hack it as an offensive coordinator long-term.
Sure, the Green Bay Packers had a lot of offensive success when he was the play-caller but that team was also led by a solid offensive mind in LaFleur and had Aaron Rodgers under center. The Chargers too have an elite quarterback under center but they do not have the fallback of having a great offensive-minded head coach for Hackett to work with.
A lot of the blame in Denver should also fall on Russell Wilson but it is impossible to defend anything Hackett did. Even his play calling in Denver was a nightmare, leaving a stench around his name that is impossible to ignore.
If the Chargers were a team like the LA Rams, who has a great offensive-minded head coach and doesn't necessarily need to hit a home run on the hire, then taking a chance on Hackett would be a smart move.
But with the situation the team is in, the Bolts have to find someone that they are sure doesn't have a downside that is lower than Lombardi. After the 2022 season, Hackett has proven he has tremendous downside.