The Detroit Lions' ugly start to the season has inspired major changes to the coaching staff.
The team fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi on Monday, the team announced. The Lions also fired offensive line coaches Jeremiah Washburn and Terry Heffernan. Coach Jim Caldwell confirmed that Jim Bob Cooter will take over as offensive coordinator.
The grandson of Vince Lombardi, Joe arrived in Detroit without experience as an NFL coordinator. He spent seven seasons with the New Orleans, including five years as Drew Brees' quarterback coach. Lombardi's place in Detroit always felt like an awkward fit. He struggled to adapt a Saints-like offense in Detroit based on timing and precision. Matthew Stafford has never mastered the finer points of the position like Brees, and he regressed in an offense built around short passing.
The last straw for Lombardi came on Sunday when the Lions lost to the Minnesota Vikings to drop their record 1-6. Stafford and the team's offensive line has struggled to recognize where pressure is coming from all season.
Caldwell, who has an offensive background, has been under fire for not delivering on his promise to improve Stafford. Caldwell, who is a proven offensive coach from his days in Indianapolis and Baltimore, figures to take on a larger role constructing the offense. If he's going to get heat, he may as well do it with his style of offense, the story said. Caldwell was instrumental in Peyton Manning's career and getting the Colts to the Super Bowl in the 2009 season as their head coach. He was hired late in the 2013 season in Baltimore, turning the Ravens' offense around and helping Joe Flacco win a Super Bowl. With Lombardi as his offensive coordinator, he was unable to replicate that success in Detroit.