NEWS Chargers fire offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi: 6 candidates to replace him

The Athletic

After two seasons, the Chargers fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Sean Day on Tuesday.

Head coach Brandon Staley, who returns in 2023, will now find a new core of coaching around 24-year-old quarterback Justin Herbert.

Herbert made his first playoff appearance this season, but the offense as a whole has regressed due to a series of injuries. The Chargers rank fourth in offensive DVOA among the 2021 Football Outsiders. They are ranked 19th this year. Injuries are a factor. The same goes for the lack of speed and depth at receiver. But Lombardi’s plans and tactics felt stagnant. The Chargers’ inability to handle the ball effectively all season was a major problem for the team’s epic 27-point lead over the Jaguars in the playoffs weekend.


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In a game where they needed to take over the line of scrimmage and finish the game on the ground, the Chargers rushed for just seven yards on seven programmed drives. Most importantly, this performance is what led to these dismissals. Herbert, who has dealt with rib cartilage fractures all season, finished 2022 with career-low touchdowns and yards per attempt.

Staley needs to get a boost from this offense, and he needs to find a coordinator who can unlock Herbert’s full potential.

Day’s dismissal was a bit of a surprise, as he was very close to Herbert. But it seems like a necessary move to attract top offensive coordinator candidates who might want to bring in their own staff.

Here are six possible candidates to replace Lombardi.

Mike LaFleur, former Jets OC

LaFleur parted ways with the Jets earlier this month to pursue other opportunities. AthleticOver the weekend, Jourdan Rodrigue reported that LaFleur is “a name to watch” for the Rams to open up the offensive coordinator position. NFL Network reports that LaFleur is expected to join Sean McVay’s staff. But the Chargers’ opening was an opportunity for LaFleur, the younger brother of Packers head coach Matt LaFleur. Mike LaFleur coached under Kyle Shanahan from 2015 to 2020, first with the Falcons and then with the 49ers.

Nathaniel Hackett, former Broncos head coach

Hackett’s tenure in Denver ended unceremoniously. The Broncos’ offense, led by Russell Wilson, has been nothing short of a disaster. But Hackett has experience commanding the game during his three seasons as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator from 2016 to 2018. He turned a Blake Bortles-led team into a functional offense. He doesn’t appear to be ready for his head coaching opportunity, but the Chargers could be a good option. Hackett coached in Green Bay for three seasons under Matt LaFleur, from 2019-2021.

Thomas Brown, Assistant Head Coach/TE Coach, Rams

McVeigh, of course, started grinding his teeth as a young coach on Mike Shanahan’s Washington team in the early 2010s. Kyle Shanahan is the offensive coordinator. Matt LaFleur is the quarterbacks coach. McVeigh was the coach in a pinch. Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is the receivers coach. That’s the tree Staley might pick. Brown has now worked under McVeigh for three seasons — first as running backs coach in 2020, an assistant head coaching title in the 2021 Super Bowl, and then transitioning from running back to tight end last season. front. The Chargers need to improve their running game. This will be their priority when searching. Brown is an NFL running back who has been involved in the running game at every stop of his coaching career, both in college and in the pros.

Thomas Brown is a candidate who could help the Chargers improve their running game. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY)

Dan Pitcher, Bengals Quarterbacks Coach

Pitcher has been coaching for the Bengals for the past seven seasons, including the past four seasons on Zac Taylor’s staff. He served as assistant quarterbacks coach in 2019, then was promoted to quarterbacks coach for Joe Burrow’s rookie season in 2020. Taylor coached under McVeigh for two seasons, including one as quarterbacks coach in 2018, before the Tigers hired him as head coach.

Zac Robinson, Rams Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach

Robinson played four seasons as a quarterback in the NFL from 2010 to 2013 before joining McVay’s team as an assistant quarterbacks coach in 2019. He served as assistant wide receiver coach in 2020, returned to assistant quarterbacks coach in 2021, and was promoted to pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach last season.

Frank Reich, former Colts head coach

Reich, who was fired by the Colts midseason, has interviewed with the head coach. He was interviewed last week for the Panthers’ opening session, according to reports. But we’ll include him here in case he doesn’t land the head coaching job and is still looking for a 2023 game-directing job. From 2013 to 2015, Reich spent three seasons with Mike McCoy’s Chargers, first as the quarterbacks coach and then as the offensive coordinator for two seasons. So there’s some organizational familiarity there.

(Joe Lombardi above: Kyle Terada/USA TODAY)

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