Just hours after head coach Jim Caldwell told reporters that there wouldn’t be any coaching changes made this week, the Lions have made a major change to their offensive staff. According to Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News (via Twitter), the team is firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, along with offensive line coaches Jeremiah Washburn and Terry Heffernan.
Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com has confirmed the changes to the Lions’ coaching staff, tweeting that quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter is taking over for Lombardi as the club’s offensive coordinator. Per Twentyman, tight ends coach Ron Prince will assume the role of offensive line coach, while Devin Fitzsimmons takes over as tight ends coach.
The Lions are off to a disappointing 1-6 start this season, and the underwhelming play of the offense has been a main reason for the team’s struggles. Matthew Stafford has been up and down throughout the season, throwing nine interceptions through seven games, well on his way to surpassing the 12 he threw in 16 games last year.
Detroit’s running game has been worse than its aerial attack, with leading rusher Ameer Abdullah having compiled just 222 yards on 3.6 yards per attempt — no other back has more than 60 yards, and Joique Bell is averaging less than two yards per carry. Overall, the Lions are averaging less than 20 points per game, ranking 26th in offensive DVOA through six weeks, per Football Outsiders.
While the Lions will hope that the changes to the offensive coaching staff will jump-start the team, it’s possible these won’t be the last moves made by the team this season. Albert Breer of the NFL Network notes (via Twitter) that there have been “rumblings around the league about larger-scale changes in Detroit,” since Martha Ford is now in charge of the ownership group, and observers aren’t sure what to expect from her.
As for the team’s new offensive coordinator, Cooter drew some interest around the league this past offseason. The Bears were interested in Cooter for their offensive coordinator opening, but the Lions denied Chicago permission to interview the ex-Broncos assistant, showing how much they valued him.