FOXBOROUGH, Mass – Former New England Patriots assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi, who parted ways with the club in June after two seasons, explained the decision to move on Friday during an interview on sports radio WEEI.
“At this point, after my contract with the Browns had expired [following the 2015 season], it was time for me to make a decision on what I wanted to do for the next 10 years,” Lombardi said on the “D&C Show with Minihane.”
“I’d love to stay at the Patriots, and Bill [Belichick] and I have a great relationship, however I thought it was time for me to go into another career.”
Lombardi's reference to his contract expiring highlights how during his time in New England, he was still getting paid from the contract he signed to become Browns general manager in 2013. He was let go by the Browns after one season.
Lombardi, who has now landed with Fox Sports as a football analyst, said he has been working on a book.
“I thought if the clock was going too far along, I wasn’t going to have the time and opportunity to do that,” he said. “It was my decision. Bill and I worked it out; there were only two people in the room when we decided what we were going to do.”
Lombardi noted that he has spent more than 30 years in the NFL, and is the only person to work for Bill Walsh, Belichick and Al Davis, which is something he wants “to put on paper” in the form of the book.
Lombardi, who was Cleveland Browns general manager in 2013 and before that worked for NFL Network and NFL.com, also shared his insight on the Patriots during the WEEI interview.
On Tom Brady playing in the preseason: “I think Tom needs game reps. Game reps are important even though it’s the preseason; the speed of the game changes. You have practices against the Bears, but it’s kind of simulated and controlled. I think Tom wants to get the flow of the game. Next week, because it’s the third preseason game, Jimmy is probably going to play as much into the third quarter as possible, and then you don’t want to put Tom out there with a lot of other guys that perhaps won’t make the team. The second game was kind of a game where he should have played a little bit to get his feet wet. He’s not going to play the fourth game against the New York Giants, that’s going to be Jacoby Brissett’s game. So I think this was the time and that’s why he was going to play. Obviously something happened with the injury and that’s why he didn’t play. … Based on what happened last night, I’m sure Bill will make an adjustment as they go into Carolina next week. … I know Tom needs to play in the preseason; he’s not just going to waltz onto the field and feel the game is going to come right to him.”
Garoppolo’s performance last night: “I think he certainly looked like he’s making progress. He only had five incompletions; he threw a couple of balls he’d like to have back that the Bears had an opportunity to intercept that they didn’t make the play on. I think it’s a growing process for Jimmy. Jimmy has to get comfortable and there is going to be an evolution of the offense around Jimmy. It’s not going to be the Tom Brady offense, because only Tom Brady is going to run that offense. Jimmy Garoppolo is going to run an offense that suits his skill set. That’s what makes the Patriots so successful, to take what a player can do and utilize their skill set at the best they can. Jimmy is going to keep getting better and better as the year goes along. I think Jimmy was very confident last night; you can see when the ball is in his hand and he knows where he is going with the football, he is very confident and is a quick decision-thinker. That’s the most important thing for quarterbacks, they have to be quick-minded.”
On Garoppolo and his future: "The one year in Cleveland [in 2013], we were desperately looking for a franchise quarterback. We spent a lot of time. I think Jimmy had the right make-up and demeanor that is going to fit in perfectly. He came in here in New England and he didn't try to buck the system. He was very hard-working. The offensive linemen love him. He has a quality that quarterbacks need to have; they gravitate towards him. He's worked hard at his game and takes a lot of pride in it. He has toughness. He's athletic. I think it's just going to come down to him playing in an offense that will fit his skill set, which is completely different than what Tom's skill set would be, because Tom is an intellectual player who has great skills and can run an entire offense. Jimmy is not going to come in and run this entire offense because Tom's been doing it for so long. The volume of offense is so great."