At roughly 9 o’clock on Tuesday morning, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen first reported that the Detroit Lions will hire Joe Lombardi as their new offensive coordinator. Lombardi has spent the past five seasons working closely with Drew Brees as the New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach.
Lombardi, grandson of Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, has only served as an offensive coordinator at the collegiate level; a position he held at Mercyhurst College from 2002-05. He was first brought into the league as a defensive assistant for the Atlanta Falcons in 2006. After one season in Atlanta, Lombardi switched back to the offensive side of the ball when he was hired by the Saints. He served two seasons as an offensive assistant before taking on the role of quarterbacks coach in 2009, the year that New Orleans won the Super Bowl.
Moving forward, it is still undetermined who will call the plays for the Lions but head coach Jim Caldwell said that he will definitely have some input. During his introduction, the new head coach said that he will be deeply involved in that area as well as with the quarterbacks.
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Some may see the addition of two coordinators without any prior NFL experience at that position to be a problem, but I see it as an opportunity. I see it as an opportunity to take the three great football minds of Caldwell, Lombardi, and Teryl Austin, and fuse their ideas to create a system that will work in Detroit. Their “inexperience” allows them to bring a sense of open-mindedness when it comes to finding a perfect fit between their coaching philosophies and the talent they have in front of them.
Just as team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew had a profile in which they wanted to fit in their search of a head coach, I believe Caldwell had a profile that he wanted to match in search of his coordinators.
In terms of finding a defensive coordinator, the Lions needed a guy to keep their 4-3 base, a system that best fits their personnel. Not only does Austin match that criteria, he also brings success as a secondary coach; a position in which Detroit’s defense was atrocious last season.
On the offensive side of the ball the Lions could do just about anything they wanted to, besides make the plays necessary to turn a fourth-quarter lead into a victory. Caldwell’s search for an offensive coordinator began with finding an innovative guy and one who has had a quarterback succeed under his guidance. Lombardi’s previous success working with quarterbacks made him the right fit for what Detroit needs; someone who can get the most out of Stafford’s talent.
In my eyes there were three important things that Detroit needed in their new coaching staff; a staff that is highly credible, not afraid to express discipline, and their schemes can easily mesh with the talents that they have on the field.
Not only do I believe that Detroit’s front office did a great job of accomplishing those things, I believe that they have hired the right people to coach the Lions into the playoffs in 2014.
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