Ravens Reportedly In Contact With Greg Roman For Offensive Coaching Job
When Head Coach John Harbaugh announced last week that Marty Mornhinweg would remain the Ravens offensive coordinator, he also said he was on the lookout for "real creative" people to stock the offensive coaching room.
Greg Roman is reportedly a candidate to be one of those creative people.
Harbaugh has been in contact with Roman since last Wednesday about the possibility of becoming an offensive assistant as a run-game specialist, according to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora. The Ravens' run game needs a boost after finishing 28th in the league, and that is Roman's "forte," says La Canfora.
If Harbaugh hires Roman in that specific role, it's unclear how that would affect Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo, who was originally hired by Harbaugh in 2013 as the run game coordinator.
"Not sure what potential hiring would mean for Castillo," tweeted The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Harbaugh doesn't have to go far to find out how Roman would fit in. It would take a simple phone call to his brother. Prior to being fired as the Bills offensive coordinator last September, Roman was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco with Jim Harbaugh from 2011-14.
The 49ers' rushing attack ranked No. 8 in Roman's first year there, then it advanced and stayed in the top four for the next three years. The Bills ranked No. 1 in rushing offense (152.0 yards per game) in 2015 with Roman calling the plays. Roman has already worked for the Ravens as an offensive line assistant, but that was in 2006-07 before Harbaugh became the head coach.
The Ravens set a franchise record for fewest rushing attempts in a season in 2016, while quarterback Joe Flacco attempted more passes than every NFL quarterback except New Orleans' Drew Brees. The team seems intent on improving the rushing attack, which includes running better, running more and bringing in new personnel.
"We have not run the football well enough or enough, really, for the last two years. That has to change," Harbaugh said last week.
If the Ravens definitely want to hire Roman, they'll have some competition for his services. AFC North rival Cleveland Browns are reportedly interested in hiring him to replace Pep Hamilton as the Browns quarterback coach and associate head coach.
Expect the topic to come up today at the Ravens' end-of-season presser at 1:30 p.m. when Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, President Dick Cass and Harbaugh will address the media.
"Could be resolved soon," La Canfora tweeted.
Programming note: You can catch the presser live on Facebook, on the Ravens mobile app or on baltimoreravens.com.
*What Type Of Running Back Are Ravens Looking To Add? A Game Breaker *
In addition to potentially hiring Roman to help improve the run game, the Ravens are also in the market for another running back.
"We need another back," Harbaugh said. "What type of back that is? I think we're talking about it. We have a pretty good idea of the type of back we want to add."
While the Ravens are pleased with the performances of Terrance West and rookie Kenneth Dixon, they have somewhat similar styles. They will likely be a big part of the offense going forward, but what Baltimore doesn't have is a "game breaker," says ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
Added Zrebiec: "What the Ravens view as a need is a home-run hitter, a big-play back that can take a handoff and go 75 yards. Such a player would be a good complement to West and Dixon, who have a nice combination of power and vision, but don't have elite breakaway speed."
The lack of breakaway speed could be seen in how short their rushes were. The Ravens running backs produced 20 or more yards on just six carries last season. Hensley says the Ravens have had their eye on big-play runners like Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy or Jay Ajayi, or explosive catch-and-run playmakers like David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell for years.
"In 2015, Baltimore was hoping Todd Gurley would slide to the bottom of the first round after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his final year at Georgia," Hensley wrote. "In last year's draft, the Ravens would've selected Elliott with the No. 6 overall pick if the Dallas Cowboys had instead drafted cornerback Jalen Ramsey."
That's why it may not be surprising if the Ravens target LSU's Leonard Fournette or Florida State's Dalvin Cook with their No. 16 pick, if they fall out of the top 10, says Hensley.
Top Question For Bisciotti Today: Is He Losing Patience?
Today marks one of those rare days when the Ravens owner speaks with the media.
He'll likely take questions for nearly an hour, but perhaps the biggest inquiry on everyone's minds has to do with his patience level after his team missed the playoffs in three of the last four years.
Bisciotti was asked about his faith in Harbaugh last year after a 5-11 campaign, and he expressed confidence that his head coach and the rest of the front office would turn things around. He wanted to stay the course.
"Will he be as understanding and resolute this year after the Ravens faltered late and played a frustrating brand of football for much of the 2016 season?" asked Zrebiec.
"Harbaugh has two years remaining on his contract, but with the Ravens missing the playoffs for the third time in four years, there's a perception that he'll be coaching for his job next season. We'll see what Bisciotti, who has a very good relationship with the head coach, has to say about that. Some disappointing recent draft picks could put Newsome and other executives in the crosshairs as well."