After two seasons, the Los Angeles Chargers have dismissed offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. This came three days after a historic and cataclysmic collapse against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wildcard round – which Lombardi played no small role in. This would appear to signal that head coach Brandon Staley’s job is safe and that he will get another chance with a different offensive staff, as quarterbacks coach Shane Day was dismissed as well.
Can confirm #Chargers OC Joe Lombardi and QBs coach Shane Day have been fired.
— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) January 17, 2023
Los Angeles Chargers Fire Joe Lombardi
This was Lombardi’s second opportunity as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, and it ultimately did not go any better than the last time. He was with the Detroit Lions from 2014 to midway through 2015, and while the Lions did make the playoffs in 2014, their offense was ranked 19th overall, and the Lions got off to a poor enough start in 2015 to warrant him getting fired.
The Chargers ranked higher than this in 2022 in yards but were middle-of-the-road in points per game, due in part to a notorious lack of scoring in the third quarters of games.
The mark of Lombardi’s offenses has ultimately been more vanilla, dink-and-dunk style offenses. The results have been both Matthew Stafford and Justin Herbert being unable to stretch the field as much as they normally would. This trend was less noticeable in 2021 for the Chargers, but that was likely because of how often they were playing either in a shootout or from behind.
In 2022 Herbert’s numbers slipped to 25 touchdown passes and 6.8 yards per pass, both easily career lows. Herbert being injured for part of the year didn’t help with this, but Lombardi’s passive play-calling didn’t change that much even when he was healthy.
Lombardi’s only real success has come with the New Orleans Saints as the quarterbacks coach – from 2009 to 2013 and 2016 to 2020 – where Drew Brees was consistently one of the league’s top passers. Perhaps not having control over the play-calling helps him do better.
The Chargers will now begin their search for a new offensive coordinator. There will be no shortage of coaches interested in working with Herbert; hopefully, whoever they pick this time will allow Herbert to be himself all of the time and not just occasionally or on a situational basis.
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