Staley to return as Chargers coach; Lombardi fired as OC

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Brandon Staley will be back for a third season as the Los Angeles Chargers head coach.

The same can not be said for some of his offensive staff.

The team on Tuesday announced that offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Shane Day have been fired after two years.

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

The Chargers fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-30 in Saturday’s AFC wild-card round game after blowing the third-largest lead in postseason history.

Los Angeles was up 27-0 late in the second quarter before the Jaguars rallied.

Criticism about Lombardi's play-calling increased throughout the season. The Chargers were ranked ninth in total offense, but 20th in scrimmage yards per play along with the third-worst rushing attack in the league.

Los Angeles also had the NFL’s second-biggest discrepancy between passing and running plays (65% pass to 35% run).

Lombardi and the offensive staff also were unable to respond to halftime adjustments. The Chargers were outscored 103-52 in the third quarter, including the playoffs. They also only scored one touchdown in the third quarter in the final 13 games.

Staley praised Lombardi late in the regular season for his ability to adjust to changes because of injuries. DeAndre Carter was the only wide receiver who played all 18 games while there were two games where both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen did not play.

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

Left tackle Rashawn Slater suffered a season-ending biceps injury in Week 3 and center Corey Linsley was out for three games because of various injuries.

Justin Herbert was second in the league in completions (477) and passing yards (4,739) this season, but was slowed most of the first half of the season after suffering torn rib cartilage after taking a hit during a Week 2 game at Kansas City.

Staley though also noted that he was looking for the unit to turn the corner going into the postseason since the team was mostly healthy.

“Now that we are almost to full strength, we have to make the improvements to be playing our best at the end. I think that is what we are searching for right now is to find a rhythm where we can score the ball at a higher level and be more explosive as a football team," Staley said on Dec. 28.

It is the second time Lombardi has not made it to a third season as an offensive coordinator. He was fired in Detroit midway through his second year in 2015.

Herbert, who will be going into his fourth season in 2023, will have his third offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in the NFL. Shane Steichen directed the Bolts offense as well as being QBs coach under Anthony Lynn in 2020 before Lynn was fired at the end of the season.

The Chargers though stumbled down the stretch for the second straight season.

Staley went into the playoffs under fire after Williams suffered a season-ending back injury in the meaningless regular-season finale at Denver.

Last season, the Chargers dropped three of their final four games to miss out on the postseason. In the 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, which would have put the Chargers in the playoffs.

Players though rallied to the defense of their coach after the loss to the Jaguars, saying Staley is still learning as a head coach.

“He’s a fresh head coach in this league. To expect he’s going to know everything right away is kind of silly,” linebacker Joey Bosa said. “I think we need to just keep building. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Owner Dean Spanos is also expected to retain Tom Telesco as general manager.

The Chargers have yet to win a division title during Telesco’s 10 seasons as general manager and have only been to the playoffs three times in his tenure. Telesco, who said before the start of the season that the true measuring stick of a GM is wins and losses, has an 81-86 record. The Bolts’ .485 winning percentage since 2013 is 19th.

“I feel like we need to be able to finish late in the season,” safety Derwin James said. “The teams that can do it in December and January, that's when it really matters.”

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Joe Reedy, The Associated Press