Figuring that good bloodlines can never hurt in football, the Detroit Lions struck quickly and quietly on Tuesday morning, hiring Joe Lombardi, grandson of their former arch-nemesis Vince Lombardi, as the team's new offensive coordinator ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports.
The Lions had previously been slowly working their way through interviews, talking most recently with Ken Zampese, quarterbacks coach with the Cincinnati Bengals. The team had also been linked with Dowell Logganis, former offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, and had been casually linked with Clyde Christensen of the Indianapolis Colts despite never officially reaching out to the team to secure an interview.
Detroit hardly settled with their appointment of the 33 year-old Lombardi. For the past seven years, Lombardi has been Drew Brees' lead tutor, working as quarterback coach for the New Orleans Saints. In 2009, he helped Brees win a Super Bowl in his first season against his new boss Jim Caldwell's Indianapolis Colts. Brees has also amassed several personal records under Lombardi's watch, including breaking Dan Marino's record for passing yards in a season with 5,476. Arguably, Lombardi has helped Brees evolve his career considering he has become a consistent 4,000-5,000 yard passer in New Orleans.
Prior to working with Brees and the Saints, Lombardi himself had collected the majority of his coaching experience on the defensive side of the ball, working as a defensive assistant in three other stops including one with the Atlanta Falcons in 2006. Lombardi does have some experience as an offensive coordinator, however, serving in that capacity in three years (2002-2005) for Division II Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Most important in this hire is the continuation of Caldwell's coaching philosophy. As Peter King wrote recently in The MMQB, Caldwell's biggest job in Detroit is fixing Matthew Stafford. In Caldwell and Lombardi, the Lions now have two coaches that have worked with Peyton Manning and Brees, two of the most successful quarterbacks of the past decade who recently faced off in a Super Bowl.
Who might Caldwell eventually tab as the Lions' quarterbacks coach? If these recent hires are any indication, it will likely be someone with plenty of experience and a penchant for working with big time talent at the position. That direction seems to have been established early on within the Caldwell regime as it relates to both offense and defense, as the Lions have been able to woo a few bigger name positional teachers as coordinators.
Lombardi's appointment finishes the search for coordinators, as Teryl Austin has already been appointed as defensive coordinator. Now, the Lions will look to finish filling out their staff with the appointment of a few more position coaches.
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