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Chargers fire offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi following playoff meltdown

Joe Lombardi watches a Chargers game with arms crossed.
Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi watches the players before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)
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Fallout from the Chargers’ dramatic wild-card elimination began Tuesday morning when the team parted ways with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterback coach Shane Day.

The moves became official three days after the Chargers lost at Jacksonville 31-30 despite opening a 27-0 second-quarter lead.

The decisions confirmed that head coach Brandon Staley isn’t going anywhere.

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General manager Tom Telesco also will remain with the team as he enters his 11th year on the job.

Though there were no credible news reports about Staley being fired, outside speculation persisted throughout the middle part of the regular season and then resurfaced after the stunning loss to the Jaguars.

But the idea of moving on from Staley never was seriously considered by management, according to multiple sources.

Staley’s two Chargers teams have finished a combined 19-15 in the regular season. His 2021 team was eliminated from playoff contention on the final snap of the regular season.

A day after losing in nightmarish fashion to the Jaguars in the playoffs, Chargers players were adamant in their support of coach Brandon Staley.

Telesco’s teams are 79-83 in the regular season, with three playoff appearances. Under Telesco, the Chargers never have won an AFC West title or reached the conference title game.

The 2013 and 2018 Chargers both won in the wild-card round before losing divisional games.

The 2022 team rallied late to secure the AFC’s top wild-card spot but lost to the Jaguars as slight favorites.

Since returning from Jacksonville, Staley has conducted exit meetings with his players and also met with his assistant coaches, evaluating each facet of the year. Those meetings were expected to continue into Tuesday.

The decisions on Lombardi and Day were made Monday, the Chargers looking to better seize on the presence of young franchise quarterback Justin Herbert.

The Chargers won the takeaway battle against Jacksonville 5-0, converting those turnovers into 20 points.

But after building the four-score lead, the offense managed only one field goal on its final five full possessions as the Jaguars launched the third largest comeback in NFL postseason history.

One of those possessions lasted 14 plays and netted 53 yards. But Cameron Dicker finished the drive by missing a 40-yard field goal.

Lombardi was hired by Staley soon after Staley became the head coach in January 2021.

In Lombardi’s first season, the Chargers were the AFC’s No. 1 passing team and a top-five offense in points and total yards league-wide.

The Chargers will want to quickly forget about their playoff loss to the Jaguars, but the ramifications could be big for the players and Brandon Staley.

Following a stellar rookie year, Herbert continued to develop in Lombardi’s system, becoming a Pro Bowler and setting numerous franchise records.

But in 2022, the Chargers struggled running the ball and establishing consistency on offense, two things that emerged again on Saturday night.

Lacking a deep threat when receiver Mike Williams was injured, Herbert and the Chargers too often looked stagnant and predictable.

Their inability to run against the Jaguars prevented them from being able to control the second half and eat up valuable clock time.

Jacksonville scored touchdowns on its first three drives after halftime before its fourth drive ended with Riley Patterson’s winning 36-yard field goal on the game’s final play.

The Chargers’ offensive deficiencies this season were made more glaring by a series of injuries to significant players.

Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater was lost for the season because of torn biceps suffered in Week 3.

Along with Williams, fellow wide receiver Keenan Allen also missed time, and Herbert was slowed for a stretch because of fractured rib cartilage.

Day also spent two seasons with the Chargers. Before that, he worked for San Francisco, Miami and Washington.


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