He may have been a bit of a scapegoat, but former Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi finds himself unemployed again on Tuesday.
After the Los Angeles Chargers blew a 27-0 lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wild Card Round, someone was going to pay with their job. Head coach Brandon Staley was easy to point right at, along with his whole coaching staff, but subsequent reports suggested only staff changes.
Lombardi was the Chargers offensive coordinator for the last two seasons, and he patently wasted the talents of quarterback Justin Herbert. Injury absences by wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams were big factors in the underachievement this year, along with the nearly season-long absence of left takle Rashawn Slater.
The Chargers still had the league’s 13th-ranked scoring offense during the regular season though, and they were ninth in total yards. But they were a dismal 30th in the league in rushing (89.6 yards per game, also third-worst in yards per carry at 3.8). They were also 14th in net passing yards per attempt (6.1). Herbert threw the ball 699 times (fourth-most in a season ever), but he averaged a career-low 6.9 yards per attempt with a career-low 25 touchdown passes.
Joe Lombardi’s failure as Chargers offensive coordinator is all-too familiar to Lions fans
Lombardi was the Lions offensive coordinator for almost two full seasons, in 2014 and 2015. An 11-5 record that first year was nice, but Detroit’s offense finished 19th in total yardage and 22nd in scoring.
The unobscured ineptitude came in the second year, as the Lions finished last in the league in rushing and averaged less than 20 points per game during a 1-6 start. Lombardi was let go by head coach Jim Caldwell after that 1-6 start in 2015.
Jeff Risdon of Lions Wire said it perfectly about Lombardi’s stint in Detroit.
"Lombardi was the Lions’ offensive coordinator in 2014 and part of 2015 before being fired for making an offense featuring Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Reggie Bush and Theo Riddick unimaginably boring."
Between offensive coordinator gigs, Lombardi redeemed his stock as quarterbacks coach for the New Orleans Saints from 2016-2020. But working with Drew Brees, even a diminished version of Drew Brees at the end of that stint, can make a quarterbacks coach look pretty good.
Chargers’ fans calls for Lombardi to be fired date back into season as he was neutering Herbert. After the Chargers only scored three points in the second half against Jacksonville, and hardly ran the ball with a lead in that second half with one of the league’s best running backs in Austin Ekeler, Lombardi wrote his own pink slip.