Joe Lombardi is sticking around in the AFC West. The veteran coach has been hired as the newest offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos, the team announced on Saturday. Lombardi, 51, had spent the last two seasons in Los Angeles as the offensive coordinator of the Chargers before being dismissed from his duties on Jan. 17.
The move to Denver reunites Lombardi with Sean Payton, who was recently acquired by the Broncos in a trade with the Saints and installed as the team's head coach. Lombardi coached under Payton from 2007 to 2013 in New Orleans as an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach, and then again from 2016 to 2020 as the quarterbacks coach before taking the Chargers' OC job.
In a quirky turn of events, this is the second time that Lombardi has come back onto a Sean Payton-led staff after a two-season stint as an offensive coordinator. He left New Orleans back in 2014 to lead the Lions offense only to ultimately return just two years later. Now, after a two-season stint in L.A., he's back with Payton once more.
While Lombardi did find himself fired by the Chargers just over a month ago, his overall numbers in L.A. were not bad. The Chargers ranked fifth and 13th in the NFL in scoring over the past two seasons and fifth and eighth in third-down offense. He also helped Justin Herbert throw for over 5,000 yards in 2021 and then over 4,700 yards last year.
What proved to be his demise in Los Angeles, however, was in part due to the club's historic meltdown against the Jaguars on Super Wild Card Weekend as the team blew a 27-0 lead. Following the loss, Lombardi was criticized for ignoring the ground attack to burn clock and instead opted to continue throwing the ball, allowing Jacksonville more time to mount its comeback.
In Denver, Lombardi, alongside Payton, will look to improve a Broncos offense that struggled with Russell Wilson under center in 2022. Last year, the offense ranked 29th in DVOA and last in third-down conversions (29.13%).