FOXBOROUGH — Dominic Lombardi is well-versed and deeply engaged in the family business.
The son of Patriots wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi and the grandson of longtime NFL executive Mike Lombardi, Dominic can rattle off the matchups on the call sheets for New England’s upcoming game when quizzed by his dad. When granddad needs a refresher on the week’s slate of games, Dominic is at the ready with all the answers. On Sundays, Dominic is glued to the Red Zone channel.
Oh, and for the record, Dominic is 4 years old.
“My wife might kill me if he becomes a coach, but I can’t make any promises,” Mick said.
It certainly wouldn’t surprise her, though.
Mick and his brother Matt had similar voracious football appetites at a young age when Mike worked in the front offices for the Browns and Raiders.
“When I was a young kid, Mr. [Al] Davis used to call the house landline and I used to answer the phone by accident all the time,” Mick said with a laugh.
“They were always engaged, both my sons,” said Mike. “They loved watching football and they would come to the [Browns] facility anytime they could. They would help.
“When Mick was a sophomore in high school, he would help the college scouting guys prepare stuff for the draft. It was just kind of part of their DNA and what they enjoyed the most.”
Mick knew a life in football was for him.
“It’s in our blood,” said Mick. “Obviously my dad has taught me a lot in terms of the people he learned from like Bill Walsh, Coach [Bill] Belichick, and obviously Al Davis. And it’s something that he’s instilled in me, and I love football, my family loves football, we’re all in it.”short
Mick played high school football, but a couple of severe concussions cut short his playing career. Still, he wanted to carve out a career in the sport. He enrolled at Fordham and immersed himself in the football program.
“Tom Masella was kind enough and generous enough to allow Mick to be like a student assistant on the coaching staff,” said Mike. “In four years, he was able to learn football, go to a really good university, and prepare himself for the next phase of what he wanted to accomplish.”
New England was the first stop in his professional career; he served as a scouting assistant. He went on to work for the 49ers (offensive and defensive assistant) and the Jets (assistant quarterbacks) before returning to the Patriots in 2019 as the quarterbacks assistant to Josh McDaniels. For the last two seasons, Mick has been the receivers coach.
It’s a diversified résumé, which fits in well with New England, where the “more you can do” philosophy is embraced.
“When you do that, you kind of get a well-versed system in terms of not only NFL football, but just football in general and schematics of where you want to fit in as a coach,’’ said Mick. “And obviously being quarterbacks- and passing-game-oriented, that’s been my kind of niche.”
McDaniels counts on Lombardi heavily to prepare the receivers and help with the game plan.
“He’s a very thorough coach,” said McDaniels. “His group would tell you that. He makes sure that every T is crossed and every I is dotted in his position group.
“He sees the game very similarly to myself in terms of the passing game. He identifies coverages very well. He handles a huge responsibility in terms of reporting on red zone and prepares our team offense for that area of our game plan.”
Belichick, who has literally known Mick since the day he was born, has enjoyed watching him grow as a person and coach.
“He has a great football background, both in personnel and in coaching, which is extremely valuable, similar to Josh,” said Belichick.
“Mick has a great breadth of knowledge and is very detailed. He does a great job with individual, fundamental instructions, as well as overall understanding schemes and personnel, talent evaluation and matchups of receivers against defensive backs, as well as patterns against coverages and all that.
“He’s a young coach who really has a lot on the ball. Good energy every day. Does a really good job for me.”
Mike, who took great pride in watching the Patriots-Panthers game earlier this month — his son Matt coaches Carolina’s tight ends — really appreciates Belichick’s apprenticeship program.
“To be a really good coach, you have to understand players and you have to understand plays,” he said. “And I think Bill does a great job on training coaches on how to see both. And that’s a testament to Bill and his ability to not only develop players but coaches, too.
“That’s one of the great strengths of the program is they build from within. And part of building from within is to understand all aspects of what goes on, and I think that it’s really important to know that. It’s really vital to understand that within every player and within every play there’s something unique that goes on.”
From splicing film as a high schooler to preparing scouting reports in college to helping formulate the Patriots passing game, Mick Lombardi has enjoyed every step along the way.
“I’m very blessed to do this for a profession and make a living doing this,” he said. “I’d say I don’t take it for granted because it’s definitely a true blessing.”
Dominic would surely agree.