Joe Lombardi, a 1990 Seattle Prep graduate, hopes to revive the Detroit Lions' offense when the team comes to town Monday to play the Seahawks.
It’s been the kind of week in Detroit for Lions’ offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi that the fact he is returning home to Seattle seemed sort of irrelevant.
Lombardi is a 1990 graduate of Seattle Prep, and the grandson of coaching legend Vince Lombardi. His father, Vince Lombardi, Jr., was an assistant to the general manager of the Seahawks in the ’70s, bringing the family to Seattle.
Joe Lombardi is now in his second year with the Lions after having previously worked from 2007-13 as an assistant with the Saints, at the end serving as the quarterbacks coach for Drew Brees.
None of that history was brought up when Lombardi held his regular weekly meeting with the media in Detroit on Friday, though.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Former WSU and UW women’s basketball coach June Daugherty dies at 64
- Seattle's Nevin Harrison becomes first to win Olympic gold medal in 200 meter canoe sprint
- Tough day for Seahawks offense at training camp is a 'first test' for new coordinator Shane Waldron
- 'I thought we were for sure headed to Seattle': Kraken rumors got attention of Carey and Angela Price
- Commentary: Simone Biles was abandoned by U.S. Olympic officials, and the torment hasn't stopped
Instead, what dominated the discussion were the stories earlier in the week that the team is tipping its plays, with many wondering if that has what has helped lead to a disappointing 0-3 start. That controversy was kickstarted when former Seahawk Golden Tate said on his radio show early in the week that opponents knew what was coming in all three games.
Tate later said his comments were not directed as a shot at Lombardi. Regardless, as the coordinator of the offense, it was Lombardi who had to answer the questions about that Friday.
“Listen, we keep detailed self-scouts and there are tendencies that show up and as they show up you work to break them,” he said. “If you’re getting in a certain formation or maybe if you’re passing a little more often, you start getting some runs into the game plan to break that tendency. Tendencies show up after a game or two, then you try to even them out and I’m confident that we do that. The biggest concern is always teams that are signaling at the line of scrimmage, maybe teams stealing a signal. So you try to have a few signals that mean the same thing. So that’s usually the biggest concern from an offensive standpoint.”
Lombardi went on to detail a sequence from Detroit’s season opener against San Diego when Tate alerted him that the Chargers appeared to know one of the Lions’ signals.
“You know, there was a play where, it was probably Golden (Tate), he came off against the Chargers and said, ‘Hey, they knew what that signal was,”’ Lombardi said. “Well, we completed that ball. It was one of the completions to Calvin (Johnson) where Matt (Stafford) made a check at the line of scrimmage and we completed it. Now, they had probably seen that on film, caught it on film, but we still completed it. So I agree with you, it comes down to execution. But you don’t want to be completely predictable, so there’s certainly a balance there. If you do something new every play, your players probably won’t be good at it, and if you do the same thing every play, the defense will probably be good at stopping it. So it’s creating balance.”
Lombardi said the bigger issue for the Lions is fixing a running game that is averaging just 45 yards per game, lowest in the NFL.
“Yeah, I mean, if you were to ask me what we need to improve on, it’s protecting the football because we’ve had too many turnovers and running the ball better,” he said. “Everything becomes easier if you’re more effective running the football.”
What would also become easier for Lombardi, who was brought to Detroit when Jim Caldwell took over as head coach last season, is a win against his hometown Seahawks. Lombardi said he’s tried not to pay attention to the noise this week but acknowledged that’s pretty hard to do.
“Well, I’m not reading the papers a whole lot,” he said. “I’m aware of it, obviously, but the good thing about this game is that you get into a routine. You come in on Monday and you do a certain thing every week, then on Tuesday you do the same thing. So you get in a routine and that kind of takes care of all that pressure.”