Joe Lombardi named Chargers offensive coordinator; Renaldo Hill to oversee defense

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Jeff Miller
·5 min read
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New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi walks through their NFL football practice.
Joe Lombardi, who worked with Drew Brees as the quarterbacks coach for the New Orleans Saints the last five seasons, was named the Chargers' offensive coordinator Monday. (Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

In furthering the development of Justin Herbert, the Chargers are turning to a coach who has spent more than a decade working alongside Drew Brees.

Joe Lombardi is the team’s new offensive coordinator under head coach Brandon Staley, who was hired last week.

The Chargers also announced the additions of Renaldo Hill as defensive coordinator and Derius Swinton II as special teams coordinator Monday as Staley continued to build his initial staff.

Lombardi, 49, spent the previous five years and 10 of the last 12 as New Orleans' quarterbacks coach, winning Super Bowl XLIV with the Saints following the 2009 season.

He was the offensive coordinator under Jim Caldwell in Detroit in 2014 and the first of seven games in 2015 before being dismissed and replaced by Jim Bob Cooter.

“He has a tremendous family,” Staley said in a statement released by the Chargers, “is a guy that is great at earning his players’ respect and is someone who has a lot of great ideas about what this Chargers offense should and will be moving forward.”

Herbert just finished a rookie season in which he blossomed, completing 66.6% of his passes while throwing for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.

Among Lombardi’s duties will be ensuring that Herbert continues to progress. The Chargers offense also features four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Austin Ekeler, among others.

The Chargers ranked ninth in total offense — sixth in passing, 18th in rushing — in 2020 under the direction of former coordinator Shane Steichen, who is taking the same position with Philadelphia.

In Detroit, the two teams Lombardi helped coach finished 18-14 and, statistically, in the middle of the NFL’s offensive rankings. Those Lions struggled to run the ball, relying mostly on quarterback Matthew Stafford and a passing game that featured Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.

Lombardi’s exit from New Orleans figures to coincide with Brees leaving the team. The NFL’s all-time leader in yards passing and a certain Hall of Famer is expected to retire.

The two spent 12 seasons together, starting in 2007, when Lombardi was hired by the Saints to be an offensive assistant.

Denver Broncos defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill directs players in drills.
Denver Broncos defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill directs players in drills during practice. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

He becomes the Chargers’ third offensive coordinator in 15 months. Steichen replaced Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired in October of 2019 by former head coach Anthony Lynn.

Lombardi, who is the grandson of Vince Lombardi, was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Mercyhurst University in 2005, when Staley played his final college season for the Lakers.

Hill spent the past two years as Denver’s secondary coach. He was a defensive assistant for Miami in 2018 and, before that, coached collegiately for five seasons, at Wyoming and Pittsburgh. A former defensive back, Hill played in the NFL for 10 years, finishing his career with the Broncos in 2010.

He and Staley worked together in 2019 under Denver’s Vic Fangio, Hill coaching defensive backs and Staley outside linebackers.

In the Chargers’ statement, Staley credited Hill with helping in the development of Broncos safety Justin Simmons, a 2016 third-round pick who was a Pro Bowl selection this season.

“[Hill is] a guy that I have a great personal relationship with,” Staley’s statement read, “and a guy that just has a tremendous background to help our team be successful.”

At his introductory news conference last week, Staley said he will call the defensive plays in 2021. The Chargers hired Staley after he served one season as the Rams’ defensive coordinator.

Hill, 42, replaces Gus Bradley, who was hired by Lynn and spent four years with the Chargers. Bradley is now the defensive coordinator for Las Vegas. Staley and Hill worked together in 2017 with the Chicago Bears.

Swinton joins the Chargers after being a special teams assistant this season for Arizona. He has an extensive background with NFL special teams, starting in 2009 when he was hired as a quality control coach by the St. Louis Rams. Swinton, 35, was the special teams coordinator for San Francisco in 2016.

Special teams have been an issue for the Chargers in recent seasons. They struggled mightily in 2020, so much so that George Stewart was removed as coordinator in late November.

The situation then turned even worse, forcing Lynn to take over the job for the final weeks of the season.

“Derius has tremendous command, is a great teacher and has the ability to see the game on offense, defense and through the kicking game,” Staley said. “I can’t emphasize enough what a great teacher he is, fundamentally, from both offensive and defensive perspectives.”

Staley’s statement also noted the contributions Swinton made to Arizona’s overall scheme.

“Situationally, he’s been instrumental in helping the Cardinals with game management,” the statement read. “It’s something that I'm really excited for him to bring to the Chargers.”

Game management was a significant issue at times for Lynn’s staff, especially this season.

Among Staley’s other coaching hires to date are Joe Barry (linebackers), Jay Rodgers (defensive line) and Frank Smith (run-game coordinator).

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.