Joe Lombardi

Chargers Fire OC Joe Lombardi

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.

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints created nine full-time vacancies available this year.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 2-7-22 (1:45pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Texans Interview Hines Ward, Joe Lombardi For HC Job

The Texans continue to move swiftly in their search to replace David Culley. They interviewed two more candidates Saturday, meeting with Chargers OC Joe Lombardi and Florida Atlantic wide receivers coach Hines Ward.

These meetings come after the Texans’ Brian Flores interview Friday. Flores has been the candidate most closely linked to the job and should still be considered the favorite, though GM Nick Caserio end up meeting with Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo as well. Ward being interviewed meets the Rooney Rule requirement for the Texans, who have now met with two minority candidates.

[RELATED: 2022 Head Coaching Search Tracker]

A former star Steelers wide receiver, Ward has only been a full-time staffer since 2019. He coached wide receivers for two years under Adam Gase with the Jets. While he also serves as a special assistant to the head coach at Florida Atlantic, Ward’s coaching background would not seem enough to make him a serious candidate. But the four-time Pro Bowler has been around the game for a rather lengthy stretch.

The Chargers brought Lombardi over from the Saints to be their OC. Under Lombardi, Justin Herbert topped 5,000 passing yards this season and is the AFC’s Pro Bowl starter. Lombardi has three seasons’ worth of OC experience, with the previous two coming under Jim Caldwell in Detroit from 2014-15.

Unlike Flores, Lombardi does not have a tie to the Patriots, having spent most of his coaching career with the Saints. This is Lombardi’s first connection to a head during this year’s HC hiring period.

Chargers RB Austin Ekeler Discusses New OC Joe Lombardi

With Joe Lombardi now serving as the Chargers offensive coordinator, it’s easy to assume that the offense will see a handful of changes. While the running game will surely see some new wrinkles, running back Austin Ekeler is confident that he’ll have another chance to lead a successful running backs corps.

“I think that’s something that I’ve learned about Joe coming in like this man is going to get his playmakers in space and situations where they can be successful,” Ekeler said during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via’s Kevin Patra). “I think you see that as far as the running back position with Kamara with the Saints. They would give him the ball any way they could, and he was making plays. And it just depends on me, right? As far as, hey, if coach is going to trust me with the ball, my hands are going to make sure I make it work, make him right. If I don’t do that, we got a lot of other talent on the team too. So I like it, ’cause it’s putting the pressure on me. I love that ’cause now I’m betting on myself to go out there and make plays. I have no doubt about that.”

Ekeler mostly served as backup during his first few seasons in the NFL, but following a breakout 2019 campaign where he finished with more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage (and with Melvin Gordon officially out of the picture), the 26-year-old finally had an opportunity to start full time in 2020. Unfortunately, Ekeler was limited to only 10 games, and his 530 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown were his lowest marks since his rookie season.

The team will return a similar running back depth chart in 2021, with Ekeler leading a grouping that includes returnees Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley (plus sixth-round rookie Larry Rountree III).

Chargers To Hire Joe Lombardi As OC

Brandon Staley continues to flesh out his inaugural Chargers staff. Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi is in line to become Los Angeles’ offensive coordinator, sources told Adam Schefter of (Twitter link).

We heard a couple of days ago that Seattle also had interest in Lombardi for their opening. As Schefter points out there’s a connection here, as Staley and Lombardi are both Dayton alums. Lombardi was an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach with the Saints from 2007-13, then was hired to be Detroit’s OC in 2014. The grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi was fired after just a season and a half of coordinating for the Lions.

He promptly rejoined Payton’s staff as quarterbacks coach, and has served in that role ever since. Obviously his first stint as an OC didn’t go as planned, but he’ll be walking into a great situation here for any play-caller. Not only will he have Justin Herbert at his disposal, but weapons like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and potentially Hunter Henry if he’s re-signed.

Bolts, Seahawks Eyeing Joe Lombardi For OC

The Saints have lost two assistants this month, seeing Dan Campbell take Aaron Glenn with him to Detroit. They may be set to see a third depart. The Chargers and Seahawks have requested interviews with Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi, The Athletic’s Jeff Duncan tweets.

Lombardi has been with the Saints for the past five seasons, catching on with New Orleans after the Lions ended his OC tenure after less than two years in 2015. The Saints have seen some interesting developments transpire at quarterback during Lombardi’s tenure.

After Drew Brees endured his first significant injury as a Saint in 2019, backup Teddy Bridgewater led the team to five straight wins. This season, Brees’ broken ribs brought New Orleans’ Taysom Hill experiment to the forefront. To the surprise of some, the former UDFA showed promise as a passer. Hill completed 73% of his passes at 7.7 yards per attempt and continued to mix in as a gadget player in the games in which Brees started.

Lombardi, 49, has a clear connection with the new Chargers staff. He worked as Mercyhurst’s offensive coordinator and QBs coach from 2002-05. One of Lombardi’s pupils at the Division II school during that time — newly hired Bolts HC Brandon Staley. The fast-rising coach transferred to Mercyhurst from Dayton in 2005, playing under Lombardi as a senior. Lombardi left the college ranks after that season, joining the Falcons as an assistant.

Lombardi is the second name mentioned as a Bolts OC candidate. The Rams blocked the firstKevin O’Connell — from interviewing for the job. After the Lions went 11-5 with Lombardi as OC in 2014, they fired him after starting 1-6 the following year.

The Seahawks have been connected to big names since splitting with three-year OC Brian Schottenheimer. Anthony Lynn, Adam Gase and Doug Pederson have discussed the position with Pete Carroll. While Pederson indicated he will not coach next season, Lynn and Gase remain unattached. Lynn is also in the mix for the Lions’ OC position. The Seahawks have also interviewed Raiders running backs coach Kirby Wilson, who worked with Carroll at multiple stops, for the post.

Saints To Hire Dan Campbell, Other Assistants

3:31pm: In addition to Campbell, Joe Lombardi, and Aaron Glenn are joining the Saints’ coaching staff, reports Mike Triplett of

Campbell will be New Orleans’ assistant head coach and tight ends coach, Lombardi will be the quarterbacks coach, and Glenn will be a secondary coach. Current tight ends coach Dan Roushar is expected to remain with the team in some capacity.

12:36pm: Although Campbell met with the Saints all day on Tuesday and feels comfortable joining Payton’s staff, the two sides haven’t finalized a deal yet, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Unless another club swoops in at the last minute with a more attractive offer, it looks like just a matter of time until Campbell and the Saints make it official.

WEDNESDAY, 9:02am: Campbell interviewed on Tuesday with the Saints, and may soon be hired as the team’s assistant head coach and tight ends coach, a source tells Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

TUESDAY, 8:57pm: The Saints are set to add former Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell to their staff, according to Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram (on Twitter). It’s not immediately clear what Campbell’s position will be, however. Dan Campbell (vertical)

In his first stint as an NFL head coach, Campbell had mixed results. After taking over for Joe Philbin when the Dolphins were 1-3, the interim head coach led the team to consecutive blowout wins to get back to .500. However, Miami won just three of its final 10 games, finishing with a 6-10 record for the season and a 5-7 mark under Campbell.

Campbell, a tight end himself over the course of his NFL playing career, served as the Dolphins’ tight ends coach prior to his promotion. Dan Roushar is the Saints’ tight ends coach, so that position doesn’t appear to be open for Campbell.

Campbell and Saints head coach Sean Payton have some history together. Campbell, a former tight end, was drafted by the Giants in 1999, when Payton was coaching quarterbacks and later moved up to offensive coordinator. In 2003, Campbell signed with the Cowboys as a free agent and Payton was also there as an offensive assistant. The two were then together in Dallas for another three seasons.

The Vikings, Cowboys, and Chargers were previously identified as teams with interest in the former Dolphins interim head coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Schwartz, White

A look at the NFC North:

  • Former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is using his year-long break from football to prepare for his NFL return, Don Banks of SI writes. Schwartz just moved his family back to Nashville and he has history with the Titans, so that seems like a logical landing spot for him. Schwartz was with Tennessee from 1999-2008, mostly as Jeff Fisher‘s defensive coordinator. Other than that, there could be openings with the Colts, Saints, Jaguars, Bucs, 49ers, and maybe the Giants if Tom Coughlin decides to retire or resign.
  • Bears rookie wide receiver Kevin White won’t rule out returning to the Bears before the year is through, as John Mullin of writes. “If I can get on the field this year and we can make a run for it, I would like to help my teammates and this organization out, as planned,” White said. “If not this year, then try my best and do what I can for next year. “But [I am] not closing any doors, not saying that I’m not coming back or anything this year. There’s a chance, so do my best to try to make a comeback.” Unfortunately, however, the No. 7 pick in the 2015 draft isn’t doing much beyond jogging and he admits that he has “a ways to go.” The Bears have several weeks to activate White from the PUP list and until the end of Week 11 to decide on whether to activate him as part of the 53-man roster or shut him down for 2015.
  • Joe Lombardi, who was fired as the Lions‘ offensive coordinator, will be paid the balance of his three-year deal, according to Chris Mortensen of (on Twitter). That includes Lombardi’s fat $1.3MM salary for the 2016 season.

Lions Fire OC Joe Lombardi

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 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.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Gaine, AP, Lions

As the last NFC North team left standing prepares to host its divisional playoff game this Sunday, let’s round up a few items on the Packers‘ division rivals….

  • A scouting director who has worked directly with Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard thinks Ballard should be “a lock” as the Bears‘ next general manager, writes Michael C. Wright of That same source believes that if Ballard lands the Chicago job, he could look at ex-Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub as a head coaching candidate.
  • While Ballard may be the favorite for the Bears‘ job, multiple sources tell Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link) that Texans executive Brian Gaine is interviewing for the position today. A league source suggests to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link) that Gaine may be consultant Ernie Accorsi‘s top recommendation for the team.
  • The first court date in Adrian Peterson‘s legal case challenging his suspension will be February 6, says Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The Vikings running back and the NFLPA will likely push to get resolution in time for the start of March’s free agent period, to allow Peterson the opportunity to reach the market along with everyone else, if Minnesota decides to cut him.
  • Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said on Monday that he has yet to decide whether to make changes to his coaching staff, and strongly defended the work of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. Kyle Meinke of has the details and the quotes from Caldwell.