Greg Roman will put a larger stamp on the Ravens' offense next season after being promoted to offensive coordinator last week. He spent the past two seasons in charge of the team's running game as assistant head coach/tight ends coach, and he has been an offensive coordinator with both the San Francisco 49ers (2011-14) and Buffalo Bills (2015-16).
Now Roman will be calling the plays and he will have a huge voice in the game plan. How will that change the Ravens' offense? Here are five things you need to know:
Roman's belief in the running game is steadfast. And it has been successful.
In his five full seasons as an offensive coordinator, Roman's teams never ranked lower than eighth in rushing. This past season, the Ravens rushed for at least 190 yards in five straight games, the first NFL team to do that since the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Roman's running formations and blocking schemes are complex. But it was impressive how seamlessly the Ravens quickly changed their offense to a run-based attack after Lamar Jackson became the starting quarterback. With Roman now the play-caller, Baltimore hopes to build on that momentum. Ravens players are already familiar with Roman's concepts, and there will be more packages added this offseason. But the players like Roman's system, largely because it works.
"It's been extremely fun for all of the tight ends," Ravens tight end Nick Boyle said this season. "I wouldn't want to be on defense trying to defend all the things we give them to look at. Greg Roman does a good job of being really creative. It's interesting to go in on Wednesdays and see what he has dialed up."
Roman is innovative. Even as a high school coach, exotic formations were part of his repertoire.
When Roman was the offensive coordinator at his high school alma mater, Holy Spirit High in Ventnor, N.J., he had a problem prior to one game. One of his tight ends was in detention. The other was absent from school. Roman improvised, using offensive linemen to replace his missing tight ends. When Holy Spirit lined up with seven offensive linemen, there was too much muscle on the field for the running game to be stopped.
As an offensive coordinator with the 49ers, Roman was also known to use jumbo formations in certain situations. Could we see Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. line up at tight end or fullback next season in a goal-line situation? Don't rule it out.
The working relationship between Roman and Jackson will be critical.
As the offensive coordinator, Roman's voice becomes the main voice in Jackson's ear during practice, and on gamedays. There will be pressure on Roman and Jackson to make sure the Ravens' offense runs with rhythm and ball-handling precision.
In 2013, when Roman was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco, the 49ers led the NFL with 13 delay-of-game penalties. In 2014, the 49ers tied for the league lead in that category. This past season, Jackson had 12 fumbles during the regular season. In the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Ravens fumbled on three consecutive plays.
The Ravens don't want to carry those problems into 2019. The more they can reduce turnovers, and the quicker they get in-and-out of the huddle with everyone on the same page, the smoother their offense will flow. Jackson will have plenty on his plate heading into his second season. But he needs to take command of Roman's offense, knowing it better than any other player.
This isn't Roman's first stint with the Ravens.
He was an offensive line assistant coach for two seasons (2006-07) under former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick. Roman said he had a more lucrative offer elsewhere, but even then, he held the Ravens' organization in high regard.
"I actually had a great job offer, much better, high-profile job, much more money, all that stuff," Roman said. "But I didn't feel like I was quite ready for it. I felt like I'd come here, kind of polish myself up for some things I felt I needed to learn. There were some good people here I wanted to learn from. When you look at your career as an arc, as a period of time or a body of work, do you really want to jump into a situation that you're not ready for? Why not just prepare yourself properly, and then do it?"
Being a Cincinnati Bengals ball boy put the coaching bug in Roman's ear.
Roman's uncle, Jack Clary, co-wrote a book about legendary NFL coach Paul Brown, who founded the Cincinnati Bengals. As a teenager, Roman accompanied Clary to Bengals training camps, giving Roman a chance to spend time with Brown. Roman has said that his decision to pursue a career in coaching was influenced by Brown.