Chargers Fire OC Joe Lombardi

Los Angeles Chargers OC Joe Lombardi
Los Angeles Chargers OC Joe Lombardi
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Wild Card - The Los Angeles Chargers have fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Lombardi was hired alongside head coach Brandon Staley in 2021. He previously served as a quarterbacks coach for the New Orleans Saints, briefly serving as an offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions between two stints in the role. 

After posting a fourth-best 16.0% offensive DVOA in 2021, the Chargers offense took a big step back in 2022 with a 19th-ranked -19.% DVOA. At one point during the season, Los Angeles had a stretch of negative offensive DVOA in nine of ten games. 

Comments

27 comments, Last at 19 Jan 2023, 4:16pm

#1 by theslothook // Jan 17, 2023 - 1:11pm

Tis the season for firing coordinators. Seems like the new way to shake things up/visible accountability. 

Points: 2

#2 by KnotMe // Jan 17, 2023 - 1:16pm

Ablative coach armor.  May be enough to save Staley since...there arn't any more games.  Can not be enough during season (Reich) for that reason I think. 

Points: 2

#8 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 17, 2023 - 1:55pm

Campbell has chucked coordinators in each of the last two years. He seems to do so like a rocket ejecting its prior stage.

Points: 0

#11 by Pat // Jan 17, 2023 - 2:59pm

Firing an OC in the middle of the season is pointless - you can't change the offense in any meaningful way during the season. I mean, sure, you can tweak it a little, call a bit more of this, less of that, etc. Sure. But you can't like, completely redo the entire thing or anything. You don't have the time.

Points: 1

#16 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 9:09am

You are changing your playcaller, even if you aren't changing the system.

Look at the Lions before and after jettisoning a coordinator/assistant mid-season in the last two years.

Points: 3

#17 by KnotMe // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:28am

Good point. It's possible to change the play caller but not the system, but changing up the system mid season is pretty much gonna fail I bet. 

Points: 0

#25 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 10:21am

Yup, I agree: but to be clear there's a difference between having a problem with the playcalling and having a problem with the overall system. And you don't actually need to fire the OC to change the playcalling midseason - although if you're actually having like, disagreements over playcalling/etc. then that's different.

Lombardi (and the Patriots, for instance) have a serious problem with the offensive system, period. It's different from the last time Lombardi was fired as OC (by the Lions!) because it wasn't really his system anyway. So there you can basically infer that Caldwell was looking at Lombardi being like "WTF are you doing, dude" and Lombardi was clearly not accepting criticism.

Points: 2

#24 by Shylo // Jan 18, 2023 - 3:36pm

It's not pointless, the Ravens won the Super Bowl after a mid-season OC change. Offenses are like languages, playcalling is like speaking it. You can't change the language because it takes a long time to learn a new language, but you can hope that someone can speak the language a little more fluently than the last guy. The Titans would be in the playoffs if they jettisoned Downing at the crossroads instead of letting his incoherent speaking kill the season.

Points: 0

#26 by Pat // Jan 19, 2023 - 10:58am

Offenses are like languages, playcalling is like speaking it. You can't change the language because it takes a long time to learn a new language, but you can hope that someone can speak the language a little more fluently than the last guy. 

It's really just a question of what you think the problem is. Cameron had been in Baltimore for 5 years, so things were well-established there and replacing Cameron with Caldwell wasn't actually because the offense wasn't producing - it was because Cameron would change things way too much and make it too hard for the players to be at their best. And Cameron had a strong reputation for being stubborn and not adapting to criticism, so... out he went.

Most offensive situations aren't like that, though - it's not like there's some offensive wunderkind sitting in the shadows that you can just replace guys with. The OC has to actively be a problem from an organizational standpoint, not just "not that great at his job," if that makes any sense. As in, it has to be more of a personality thing than a football thing.

Points: 0

#3 by johonny12 // Jan 17, 2023 - 1:16pm

Is there any evidence the constant juggling of the staff by teams in the modern NFL has any positive effect other than satisfying the angry fanbase? I imagine if we see Sean Payton in 2023, we will see Joe land wherever he lands. 

Points: -1

#4 by BigRichie // Jan 17, 2023 - 1:26pm

Holding the players accountable for outcomes while making excuses for the coaches is a heckuva way to lose the locker room. Maybe the single best way.

There are plenty more qualified head coaches/OCs/DCs than there are positions for them. In such an environment, yeah, any time things go wrong you get 'stepped aside' and the next guy gets to take his shot at it.

Points: 1

#5 by BigRichie // Jan 17, 2023 - 1:34pm

Lombardi probably would work fine with Sean Payton, and I suspect that's the only head man Lombardi should OC for. Joe coordinated as if Justin Hebert was Drew Brees' genetic twin. If you look at Hebert and see Brees, I have to figure no matter whatever QB you're given, you're still gonna see Drew Brees.

Points: 3

#13 by Pat // Jan 17, 2023 - 3:17pm

I mean, it's worse than that - the only time Brees's depth of target was that low was when his arm was shot. He just wasn't challenging NFL defenses. He was basically just attacking underneath defenders and the safeties knew it.

Points: 1

#6 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 17, 2023 - 1:34pm

You can't have evidence without a control group and there is no control group.

  • successful head coaches lose their coordinators to other teams
  • unsuccessful head coaches fire their coordinators to hold on to their job for a little while longer, or if they don't their coordinators get fired along with them as a housecleaning project (very occasionally getting promoted to head coach during that process, but still moving out of the coordinator role)

The only ones left that demonstrate success + stability are weird outliers like Bieniemy in KC who never get a chance to leave or McDaniels in NE who gets to leave, fail and come back (working on attempt two of that cycle).  Maybe there are some examples of middling success + stability, who stay together long enough to eventually have actual success or crumble?  Can't think of any off the top of my head and if there are I'm not sure it'd be a big enough sample group to draw any conclusions from.

 

Points: 0

#7 by theslothook // Jan 17, 2023 - 1:44pm

To piggy back on this. It takes special circumstances before we can even say with certainty which coaches are really good or really terrible. It seems nigh impossible to filter that down to the coordinator level except for some extremely rare cases like Wade Philips who kept bouncing around despite so much success. 

Points: 1

#9 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 17, 2023 - 1:57pm

McDaniels in NE who gets to leave, fail and come back (working on attempt two of that cycle)

Attempt three.

Points: 2

#12 by johonny12 // Jan 17, 2023 - 3:01pm

Well, you could look at situations where the head coach stays, and fire coordinator (I. E. doesn't leave for better job). My assumption is there should be a confirmation bias. You generally fire coordinators when a unit performs bad one year. Hence new guy has no place to go but up. If there isn't a slight upward trend in the data you'd be worried. Although, once again these guys seem to be fired at random these days just to save face so essentially there maybe no obvious trend. Anyway, that's probably what you'd look for if one wanted too. Joe's been there two years and had a good year, had a bad year. Was that him, or injuries etc . . . There does have a fire a guy to appease the fans feel to these teams moves these days. In the 70s and 80s I don't think you saw these mass staff firings, unless the head coach went too. (maybe I'm wrong, but it does feel that way)

 

Either way, the humor to me in this is that most of these guys are like Joe. He's been in the NFL a long time and has already lost his job (been canned) more than once. He's very likely to be in the NFL again next season as are many of these fired coordinators/ coaches.    

Points: 0

#18 by Noahrk // Jan 18, 2023 - 10:54am

There's so many coordinators whose scheme is an obvious square peg in a round hole. I don't wonder at why they got fired, I wonder at how they got hired in the first place.

The real question is, can the head coach he relied upon to make the right hire the second time around if he blew it the first time? Some coaches seem to see an ideal they carry in their head instead of what's really out there in the real world. The best coaches are the ones that don't seem to have that problem.

Points: 2

#19 by Will Allen // Jan 18, 2023 - 11:22am

Sometimes, a head coach can be the victim of his own success in hiring staff. Zimmer was like that with offensive coordinators. He had Norv Turner when Adrian Peterson was still a great player, and the outcome was reasonably good. Then, when the oline had an injury apocalypse, and he knew Turner's approach couldn't work, he brought in Pat Shurmur on the fly, who did an obviously good job, and thus ended up as HC for the Giants. Zimmer wasn't happy with his next OC hire, promoted qb coach Stefanski to OC, who had enough success to get the HC job in Cleveland. Then covid hits, and everything goes to hell. If enough guys you hire as coordinator get HC jobs, some of the subsequent hires are just statistically certain to unsuccessful, unless Tom Brady, or someone of similar stature, is the qb.

This is the argument for having a HC with offensive orientation. A HC with defensive orientation, who has a good OC, is nearly certain to lose him, and eventually you'll get a bad OC. Good defensive coordinators, working for HCs with offensive orientation, don't get offered HC jobs as often. Funny how path dependence works.

Points: 1

#20 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 18, 2023 - 1:14pm

Except the argument usually depends on having a QB for whom the OC doesn't matter at all.

Early Favre really needed Holmgren. Old Favre was savvy enough to ignore the OCs for the Jets and Vikings. Brady and Manning were basically their own OCs.

Points: 1

#21 by Will Allen // Jan 18, 2023 - 1:56pm

Favre was always best with an OC or HC who was willing to tear him a new one. Childress wasn't a good coach overall,but he had no problem with being an A-hole to anyone, including Favre. Favre was worst with a guy who deferred to him, like Mike Sherman. Earlier in their careers, guys like Brady and Manning obtained some benefit from good coaching.

Points: 2

#22 by JoelBarlow // Jan 18, 2023 - 2:06pm

i'm sure he's someone's son in law, he'll be fine

Points: 0

#27 by Joe L // Jan 19, 2023 - 4:16pm

He’s already Vince Lombardi’s grandson; not sure what other nepotistic relationship he needs.  He literally is related to the guy the Super Bowl champions’ trophy is named after.

Points: 1

#10 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 17, 2023 - 2:38pm

Depends on your definition of "constant juggling", but I strongly feel Joe Lombardi is overmatched as an OC.  He was fired mid-season as OC from the 2015 Lions, after the team started 1-6, and Stafford looked terrible (around that time I was thinking it was time to move on from him).  From that point onwards, Stafford and the offense immediately got better, and the team went 6-3 to finish the season.

Another anecdote from my fan experience, Anthony Lynn was stripped of play-calling duties for the Lions midway through the 2021 season, and Ben Johnson became more involved in play design and game-planning (before becoming officially OC this year), after which Goff and the offense got way better to end the season, and further improved to a top-5 offense this year.

The point is, while I agree some of the coordinator yeeting (as Tanier puts it) may serve only as a shield for the HC...sometimes it's a needed and beneficial move.

Points: 6

#23 by Meaningful gam… // Jan 18, 2023 - 2:36pm

So wait, sometimes it's one thing, sometimes it's another, and sometimes it's hard to tell if it's either or maybe both? I feel like this comment needs to be removed from the internet for violating the maximum reasonableness ceiling. We want need require generalizations that are correct (best-case) 58% of the time!

Points: 3

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