The grandson of Vince Lombardi won’t be pursuing a Lombardi Trophy in 2023 with the Chargers.
The Chargers have announced that they have “parted ways” with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. Also out is quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Shane Day.
The move implies that coach Brandon Staley will return for a third season, 27-point playoff collapse notwithstanding. If that’s what ownership has decided, that’s ownership’s business.
But there’s a bigger business consideration for ownership to ponder. They surely want to compete with, if not overtake, the Rams in the L.A. market. With quarterback Justin Herbert nudging toward the front end of his prime, do they want an offensive-minded head coach who can get the most out of his unique skills and abilities?
Apparently, they’re content to let their defensive-minded coach try again, when it comes to hiring coaches tasked with getting the most out of Herbert. (If, of course, they do, they’ll become head-coaching candidates elsewhere — and may have to be replaced for very different reasons.)
It makes sense to make changes to the offensive approach. Throughout 2022, it seemed as if their offense wasn’t what it could have been, not with Herbert as the straw stirring what had become a lukewarm glass of pulp-filled orange juice.
Would it have been expensive to buy out Staley and go all in for someone like Sean Payton? Yes. Would that expense potentially have to untold profits? Quite possibly.
Here’s the other thing to consider. Saturday night’s game will leave a mark that could be hard to overcome, even with a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. And even though multiple players have spoken out in favor of Staley, they’re like the rest of us. They don’t like change. They want to try it again with the apparatus in place. They believe that a reset to 0-0 will lead to different results.
For the Chargers, different hasn’t happened. It’s been nearly 30 years since their lone Super Bowl appearance, a blowout loss to the 49ers that capped the 1994 season. Do they go all in to alter the status quo, or do they keep treading water?
The Chargers have chosen a half-measure. And half measures don’t work, more than half the time.
Consider prior teams that have had a season end with a devastating and historic playoff loss. It doesn’t evaporate quickly. The 2014 Seahawks, with the fateful decision to pass when they should have run, loomed over the team until the day Russell Wilson was traded. The 2016 Falcons, who blew a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI, are still trying to chart a new course.
Do the Chargers believe that Saturday night’s loss will, or won’t, linger? History tells us that it will. And, if it does, 2023 could be Staley’s last season on the job, swinging the door open for someone like Jim Harbaugh or whoever else is at the top of the “A” list in 2024.