Staley will return as Chargers coach; Lombardi sacked as head coach

COSTA MESA, California. Brandon Staley will return for a third season as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The same cannot be said about some of his offensive collaborators.

On Tuesday, the team announced that offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Shane Day had been fired after two years on the job.

Staley is 19-16, including playoffs, in two seasons. He led the Chargers to their first playoff appearance since 2018 with a 10-7 regular season record.

The Chargers lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-30 in Saturday’s AFC round game after he conceded the third-biggest lead in postseason history.

Los Angeles was up 27-0 at the end of the second quarter before the Jaguars rallied.

Criticism of Lombardi’s play call intensified over the course of the season. The Chargers finished ninth in total offense but 20th in yards per game, as well as third in offensive speed in the league.

Los Angeles also had the second-largest pass-to-turn mismatch in the NFL (65% passing vs. 35% runs).

Lombardi and the offensive headquarters also failed to respond to the break adjustment. In the third quarter, including the playoffs, the Chargers lost 103–52. They also scored just one touchdown in the third quarter in their last 13 games.

Staley praised Lombardi at the end of the regular season for his ability to adapt to changes due to injuries. DeAndre Carter was the only wide receiver to play all 18 games, while neither Mike Williams nor Keenan Allen played two games.

Allen missed seven of the first nine games with a hamstring injury. Williams was out for five matches, including four with an ankle injury.

Left tackle Rushon Slater suffered a season-ending bicep injury in Week 3, and center Corey Linsley was out for three games with various injuries.

Justin Herbert was second in the league in completions (477) and passing yards (4,739) this season, but was slower for most of the first half of the season due to a torn rib cartilage after hitting during a Week 2 game in Kansas City.

Staley, however, also noted that he was looking for a team that could turn the corner ahead of the postseason as the team was mostly healthy.

“Now that we are almost at full strength, we need to make improvements to eventually play to our limits. I think that’s what we’re looking for right now is to find a rhythm where we can score at a higher level and be more explosive as a football team,” Staley said Dec. 28.

This is the second time that Lombardi did not live to see the third season as offensive coordinator. He was fired by Detroit midway through his sophomore year in 2015.

Herbert, who will start his fourth season in 2023, will have the NFL’s third offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Shane Steichen managed the Bolts offense and was also the QB coach under Anthony Lynn in 2020 before Lynn was fired at the end of the season.

However, the Chargers are stumbling for the second season in a row.

Staley made the playoffs under fire after Williams suffered a season-ending back injury in a pointless regular season finale in Denver.

The Chargers lost three of their last four games last season, missing the playoffs. In a 35–32 overtime loss at Las Vegas in Week 18, Staley called a late timeout when the Raiders were content to play for a tie that would have taken the Chargers to the playoffs.

However, the players rallied in defense of their coach after the loss to the Jaguars, stating that Staley was still learning as a head coach.

“He is the new head coach in this league. Expecting him to know right away is pretty stupid,” said midfielder Joey Boza. “I think we should just keep building. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Owner Dean Spanos is expected to retain Tom Telesco as CEO.

The Chargers had yet to win a division title in Telesco’s 10 seasons as general manager, and they made the playoffs only three times during his tenure. Telesco, who said before the start of the season that the true measure of a grandmaster is wins and losses, has a record of 81-86. The Bolts’ winning percentage since 2013 of 0.485 ranks 19th.

“I feel like we need to finish the season at the end of the season,” defenseman Derwin James said. “Teams that can do it in December and January is when it really matters.”


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