ALLEN PARK (CBS Detroit) — It took a second go-around at the podium on Monday for Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell to announce the firing of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
A Lions offense that had been stagnant and inconsistent through the first seven games of the season proved to be Lombardi’s downfall, ranking dead last in the NFL in rushing.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford addressed the media following the announcement on Monday afternoon, saying that players understand the business, but still hate to see people go.
“Anytime guys are let go it’s a tough situation,” Stafford said. “You feel a certain amount of responsibility as a player because you’re the guy, especially at the quarterback position ultimately out there pulling the trigger.”
The seventh-year quarterback rejected the notion that there was any sort of disconnect between himself and Lombardi, who was hired by Caldwell when he took over in 2014.
“I think Joe is an extremely talented coordinator, honestly,” Stafford said. “Some of the stuff we had was great. I have a ton of respect for him, I just wish I could’ve played better and helped us will more games.”
Taking Lombardi’s place will be quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter, who worked with Payton Manning in Denver before landing in Detroit last season.
“Jim Bob is an extremely smart guy, he’s going to do a good job for us,” Stafford said. “He’ll get us in the right situations and let us go.”
The Lions offense has been accused of being boring and predictable, but Stafford doesn’t know what — if anything — will change now that Cooter has taken over playcalling duties.
“I don’t expect anything, honestly,” Stafford said. “He’s never called plays for this offense so we’ll see.”
Also let go were co-offensive line coaches Jeremiah Washburn and Terry Heffernan. Apart from the abysmal running game, the line has struggled mightily in pass protection, relinquishing seven sacks to the Minnesota Vikings in a 28-19 loss on Sunday.
“There’s a saying — when you lose, bad things happen and when you win, good things happen,” Stafford said. “We just have to find ways to win football games and the rest will take care of itself.”