The Lombardi family is steeped in NFL coaching tradition stemming from Vince Lombardi's six NFL titles and two Super Bowl championships. The legacy will continue as his grandson, Joe Lombardi, has been hired as the Detroit Lions' offensive coordinator, the team confirmed, per Josh Katzenstein of The Detroit News:
Lions confirm Joe Lombardi is the new offensive coordinator through team's official reporter.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) January 21, 2014
The Saints won the Super Bowl in Joe Lombardi's first season as QB coach, beating Jim Caldwell's Colts.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) January 21, 2014
ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported the news:
Saints QB coach Joe Lombardi, the grandson of Vince Lombardi, will be hired as Lions new offensive coordinator. per league sources— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 21, 2014
Despite Lombardi's undeniable lineage, the hiring comes as somewhat of a surprise. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press went so far as to call it an "under-the-radar" hire:
Guess somebody wasn't lying last night when they told me the Lions new OC was going to be an under-the-radar type.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) January 21, 2014
Although Lombardi is fairly anonymous, he has held down an important position as quarterbacks coach of the New Orleans Saints over the past five years, per ESPN's Michael Rothstein:
Joe Lombardi's experience as an OC is from Mercyhurst College from 2002 to 2005. Has been #Saints QB coach past 5 years.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) January 21, 2014
Quarterback Chase Daniel, who played for the Saints from 2009 through 2012, tweeted his support of the hiring:
Huge congratulations to Joe Lombardi. Coached me up for 4 years in Nola…really knows his stuff & will do great things in Detroit!— Chase Daniel (@ChaseDaniel) January 21, 2014
Lombardi was also an offensive assistant with the Saints from 2007 through 2008, and he was a defensive assistant with the Atlanta Falcons in 2006 after four years at Mercyhurst College, so Lombardi comes to Detroit with a diverse resume.
Some might argue that the success of the Saints offense over the past several years is a direct result of quarterback Drew Brees' play as well as Sean Payton's coaching, but Lombardi's involvement is something worth considering too.
The Lions, and new head coach Jim Caldwell in particular, were obviously impressed with the job that Lombardi did in New Orleans.
Prior to choosing Lombardi as his offensive coordinator, Caldwell talked about the importance of finding a strong and reliable leader at that position, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com:
One of the things we're just trying to make certain we have a guy who has a real good sense of system just in terms of offensive football and the installation and application of it. That he's a good communicator—that's extremely important—and that he's real good just in terms of teaching fundamentals.
Is this a good hiring for the Lions?
It remains to be seen if Lombardi truly fits the bill, but his pedigree is obviously encouraging. The name of Lombardi's grandfather graces the trophy that all NFL teams hope to hoist at the end of each season, and the Lions clearly hope Lombardi's grandson will hold it sooner rather than later.
The fact that Lombardi will coach for the Lions after his grandfather led the rival Green Bay Packers for so many years seems ironic, but it should make for a great story provided Joe finds success in Detroit.
With Matthew Stafford under center, Reggie Bush in the backfield and Calvin Johnson making life miserable for opposing secondaries, Lombardi has all the tools necessary to look like a genius as the Lions' offensive coordinator.
If Lombardi inherited even the slightest bit of coaching ability from his legendary grandfather, then the Lions may have found a diamond in the rough.
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