Significant changes have been made to the Chargers’ coaching staff, though not necessarily the one many have been anticipating. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Shane Day have been fired (Twitter links via Tom Pelissero of NFL Network). The team has confirmed the moves.
Lombardi was hired in January 2021 to serve on head coach Brandon Staley‘s staff. The former came to Los Angeles after two different stints with the Saints serving as their QBs coach. His work alongside Drew Brees certainly made him an appealing candidate to help usher in the Justin Herbert era with the Chargers, though his results have been varied.
The Chargers had one of the best offenses in the league in 2021, with the team ranking fourth in yards and fifth in points per game. Herbert and the team’s array of pass catchers accounted for much of that success, as Los Angeles ranked second in the league in yards gained through the air. The team fell short of the postseason after a wild season-finale loss to the Raiders, however, leading to questions regarding their defensive performance and Staley’s in-game management.
This year, a number of moves made in the offseason — including further additions on the offensive line — led to increased expectations for Lombardi’s unit. The Chargers once again ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in terms of yardage, but their scoring fell to the middle of the pack. Running back Austin Ekeler helped lead the way as a number of injuries weighed down their efficiency through the air, but the team nevertheless seemed well-positioned to win this past week in Herbert’s postseason debut.
The Chargers were well on their way to doing just that when they raced to a 27-0 lead over the Jaguars on Saturday night. During the second half, however, the tide started to turn as Jacksonville worked their way back into contention. Lombardi’s play-calling down the stretch — which saw Ekeler receive only 13 total carries on the night, in spite of his pair of early touchdowns and the team’s large advantage on the scoreboard — drew heavy criticism. Now, Staley has responded by parting ways with the 51-year-old coordinator in a major shake-up to his staff.
Lombardi came to the Chargers with two years of OC experience dating back to his time with the Lions. Detroit put up underwhelming totals during his tenure there, something which, coupled with this unceremonious exit from Los Angeles, will hurt his chances of landing another OC role in the future. Day, meanwhile, has also had his two-year stint come to an end. He served as the Chargers’ passing game coordinator in addition to his duties coaching Herbert and the team’s other signal-callers. The 48-year-old position coach has been an offensive assistant with six different NFL teams, and will now look for his next opportunity on the sidelines.
Today’s move means there are now six offensive coordinator vacancies around the NFL. This one is likely to be the most coveted, considering the presence of Herbert, Ekeler, a high-end pairing of wideouts in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, and a rebuilt offensive front. While the search for Lombardi’s successor will be a key storyline for the Chargers, this news also strongly points to Staley’s job being safe, something which the team’s players advocated for in the wake of the weekend’s defeat.