Joe Lombardi was ready for next step

MOBILE, Ala. -- My reaction to the news that the Detroit Lions hired former New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi as their offensive coordinator: What took so long?

What better pedigree could you ask for in a coach than being the grandson of Vince Lombardi and a longtime apprentice of Sean Payton?

I suppose you could consider it a

plus or a minus that Lombardi worked under Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., and worked with quarterback Drew Brees. That means Lombardi himself wasn't calling a lot of the offensive shots. But he's been surrounded by a lot of brilliant minds since he first arrived in New Orleans as an offensive assistant in 2007.

I have no doubt that Lombardi is ready to step up into more of a leadership role, and he should be a great mentor for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. With Jim Caldwell as the Lions' new head coach, Stafford's about to start hearing a lot of stories about how Peyton Manning and Brees operate.

And with Lombardi's engaging personality, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him get on the fast track toward head-coaching opportunities -- much like former Saints defensive backs coach and current Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen.

"Joe's a great coach, he's done a great job with us for a long period of time. We're gonna miss him," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said during Tuesday morning's practice at the Senior Bowl -- just before the word became official. "Whoever hires him is gonna get a great coach and someone who will do a real great job with their offense."

Loomis is confident that the Saints will be able to find a suitable replacement, though -- something they've had to do more and more in recent years as their assistants have gotten opportunities to move up.

In recent years, Allen became the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator before becoming the Raiders' head coach; former offensive coordinator Doug Marrone became head coach at Syracuse then head coach of the Buffalo Bills; former receivers coach Curtis Johnson became head coach at Tulane; and former offensive line coach Aaron Kromer became offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears.

Loomis said that's "absolutely" a good sign for the organization.

"Yes, because it means two things: It means longevity for your program, and it means that you're hiring the right guys and you've been successful," Loomis said. "It's a natural course of business when you've been successful with a head coach the caliber of Sean Payton. You know, obviously teams want a piece of that. So we've had a number of guys move on and do well. And that's gonna continue to happen.

"And look, we'll go out and well find real good replacements. And then we'll lose them, too."

There was no immediate indication of the Saints' plans for a replacement.