Broncos Hire Joe Lombardi As OC

FEBRUARY 25: The Broncos announced their full staff on Saturday, and it does indeed list Lombardi as offensive coordinator. The move comes as little surprise given reporting on the hire earlier this week, along with the time Payton and Lombardi spent together with the Saints. Their first season in Denver will see the veteran staffers work alongside a mix of experienced and rookie coaches, including Davis Webb in Lombardi’s familiar role of quarterbacks coach.

FEBRUARY 23: Fired from his Chargers offensive coordinator post last month, Joe Lombardi will reunite with his former boss. Sean Payton is adding the veteran assistant to his staff, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.

Lombardi’s role is not yet known, though the Broncos have not hired an OC. Lombardi filling that role is not out of the equation, per Klis. Lombardi enjoyed two lengthy stints as the Saints’ quarterbacks coach, serving in that role from 2009-13 and 2016-20. He spent the past two seasons as the Bolts’ play-caller. Lombardi, 51, will indeed join the Broncos in a coordinator-type capacity, Klis adds.

While Lombardi drew criticism for his performance guiding Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert-directed offenses, Denver’s OC role will be a non-play-calling position. As it was in New Orleans, Payton will call plays as a head coach. The Broncos’ OC search has not generated as much attention as the DC pursuit that ended with Vance Joseph being hired Thursday. Saints quarterbacks coach Ronald Curry is the only known interviewee thus far, but Curry is staying in New Orleans. That clears a path for Curry’s predecessor, but the Broncos have operated methodically in filling out Payton’s staff.

Be it as Denver’s new OC or its pass-game coordinator, Lombardi will work as one of Payton’s top assistants once again. Both the staffers the Chargers fired in January — Lombardi and Shane Day — have landed gigs elsewhere in the AFC. The Texans hired Day as a senior offensive assistant last week. The Broncos’ top trio on offense from last season — Nathaniel Hackett, OC Justin Outten, QBs coach Klint Kubiak — have all landed elsewhere (Jets, Titans, 49ers) as well.

Dinged for not turning Herbert loose as a downfield passer, Lombardi still oversaw the star Bolts QB becoming the AFC’s Pro Bowl starter in 2021. Herbert threw 38 touchdown passes that season. He dropped to 25 this season, but injuries affected the Bolts steadily. Keenan Allen missed half the year with a hamstring malady, while Mike Williams was down for multiple stretches. This included the team’s playoff game, after Brandon Staley surprisingly played his starters deep into a meaningless Week 18 game in Denver. Herbert also played through a rib injury, one he suffered in Week 2. While Austin Ekeler once again led the NFL in touchdowns (18), the Chargers’ offense underwhelmed in 2022.

An Air Force alum, Lombardi will return to Colorado for a third stint under Payton. Vince Lombardi‘s grandson, Joe caught on with the Saints in 2007 and was Drew Brees‘ primary position coach during his record-setting run in New Orleans. Payton understandably receives most of the credit for Brees becoming a superstar, but the new Denver HC will entrust his longtime lieutenant to help repair Russell Wilson‘s game.

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