Greg Roman Is Promoted and the 'Crowd Goes Wild'
Friday's big news that Greg Roman was being promoted to offensive coordinator was met with a thumbs up from pundits and fans, and reportedly came about after interest from other teams.
"Roman had garnered interest this week for a few offensive coordinator openings around the league, sources said," wrote The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec.
Roman replaces Marty Mornhinweg, who decided not to remain a part of Baltimore's staff. Head Coach John Harbaugh tried to keep Mornhinweg, who had led the offense the past three seasons, in a different role, but it didn't work out.
Regardless, the switch to Roman drew widespread praise.
"The crowd goes wild," said Press Box's Glenn Clark.
"My reaction is all positive," added Stan "The Fan" Charles.
How much the decision was influenced by the Ravens' offensive troubles (particularly in adapting to the Chargers' seven defensive backs wrinkle) in their wild-card loss, or the fact that Roman was reportedly garnering interest from other teams around the league, is unknown.
But what was plainly clear was that Roman has done an outstanding job in Baltimore during his two seasons, and was deserving of a third crack at an OC role. As the Ravens move forward with a Lamar Jackson-led offense, a coordinator as creative and successful with ground attacks makes a ton of sense.
"Roman coached the offense's most productive group (tight ends) and oversaw its most successful elements," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer.
"The Ravens' mix of college spread-style and pro-style running concepts proved difficult to prepare for during the regular season, keeping opponents off-guard and the team's defense off the field for long stretches."
Roman built a reputation for his work with running games. He helped turn around a meager Baltimore rushing attack in his first two years with the Ravens. Led by Jackson, the Ravens finished No. 2 in rushing this season.
Roman has been an offensive coordinator for five full seasons, split between the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. His units never finished lower than eighth in rushing and were in the league's top five four times. Here's a look at the numbers from Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz.
Roman helped create a Colin Kaepernick-led offense in San Francisco, which went all the way to Super Bowl XLVII to face the Ravens. Roman also engineered the league's top-ranked rushing game in Buffalo in 2015 before being fired two weeks into the 2016 season.
Harbaugh will have his sixth different offensive coordinator since the beginning of the 2012 season. That's a lot of turnover, but keeping Roman maintains constancy, which is especially important with a young quarterback who made great strides as a rookie.
"Harbaugh's decision to make a change was hardly viewed as a slam dunk. He's been extremely loyal to Mornhinweg, who he also worked with in Philadelphia. Mornhinweg also has extensive experience with athletic and multi-dimensional quarterbacks, having also coached Mike Vick, Jeff Garcia, Steve Young and Donovan McNabb," Zrebiec wrote.
"Promoting Roman, though, still provides a bit of stability for Jackson who the Ravens will try to build an offense around this season. Roman was already doing a significant amount of the offensive game planning for the team in addition to his work with the tight ends. He's known for his creative and versatile running schemes that should fit well with Jackson's skillset."
One question is whether a run-heavy approach will continue to be the best formula for long-term success, however. This will likely be a point of debate all offseason.
"Roman's promotion seems to only widen the Ravens' divergence from leaguewide trends," Shaffer wrote. "While head coaching candidates with ties to Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay and passing-game pedigrees have become in vogue this offseason, the Ravens appear to be moving in another direction with their quarterback and signal-caller."
"In promoting Roman, it's clear that the Ravens expect to stay the course next year, even as there are questions about whether this run-heavy approach and the multitude of hits Jackson takes as a running quarterback are sustainable in the long term," added Press Box's Bo Smolka.
Good news is one of Roman's former players, 49ers left tackle Joe Staley, said Roman can do it all.
"I've never been around a coordinator who understands everything," Staley told Yahoo Sports in 2013. "Not just X's and O's and how you draw it up, but the bigger picture, too. Watching games [on tape], I find myself saying, 'This is a perfect call here.' It seems seamless to him. There are a lot of guys who are really smart with plays and who run creative schemes, but it's the way you call those plays that makes all the difference. He's great at both. He's very innovative."
Patriots' Success vs. Chargers Raises Questions
At the end of the Ravens' wild-card playoff loss, a fan in a Ravens jersey yelled out to Chargers players going into the tunnel, "Beat the Patriots!"
Well, it didn't quite work out that way, as the Patriots stomped the Chargers, 41-28, yesterday at Gillette Stadium to move on to the AFC Championship for the eighth straight year.
The Los Angeles Chargers spent the week being lauded for their defensive game plan in a Wild Card victory over the Baltimore Ravens," wrote NFL.com's Kevin Patra. "The blueprint got shredded into pulp by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots."
The Chargers used the same scheme they deployed in Baltimore with a smaller, faster unit of seven defensive backs. The Patriots punched it in the mouth with 347 yards, 24 first downs and 7.4 yards per play – in the first half. Rookie Patriots running back Sony Michel topped 100 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns in the first half.
That left questions about why the Ravens didn't employ some of the same techniques a week prior, despite being equipped with a physical running attack themselves.
On one hand, the Patriots' lopsided win would seemingly mean the Ravens would have suffered a similar fate had they gone to Foxborough.
However, the Ravens were facing the Chargers' unique defensive scheme for the first time, whereas the Patriots had a full week to study how to counter it. Plus, you never know week to week in the NFL because matchups, especially when facing the Patriots, are so important.
Count Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead IV as one who believes the Ravens could have had a different result than the Chargers yesterday. And count Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey as a bad prognosticator.
Ravens Still Have Work to Do on Coaching Staff
The Ravens' coaching moves aren't over, as there is now a vacancy for the wide receivers coach since Bobby Engram has moved to coaching the team's tight ends.
Running Backs Coach Thomas Hammock is also reportedly a top candidate for the open head coach job at Northern Illinois, his alma mater.
But Zrebiec wonders if there could be more on the way beyond those.
"He could choose to hire a pass-game coordinator to pair with Roman, or quarterbacks coach James Urban could assume that role," Zrebiec wrote.
Offense Finishes on Top in 2018
The Ravens flew in the face of convention this season with a ferocious defense and a run-heavy offense.
But in the end, high-octane offenses finished in the final four.
The remaining defenses ranked in the following order: Chiefs (31), Patriots (21), Rams (19), Saints (14).
"We've done an exaggerated version of the NFL's annual dance this season: explosive scoring early, followed by the rise of defensive football," wrote NFL.com's Nick Shook. "This is 2018, though. Things are different."
- So much for that Joe Flacco-Gary Kubiak reunion, as it was reported on Friday afternoon that Kubiak, contrary to earlier reports, will not be Denver's offensive coordinator under new Head Coach Vic Fangio.
- Two other former Ravens coaches got jobs this weekend. Chuck Pagano will lead the only defense to give up fewer points than Baltimore this year, and Teryl Austin is headed to the rival Steelers.
- The Browns have hired their offensive and defensive coordinators, who will join new Head Coach Freddie Kitchens.