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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Greg Roman out after four seasons as Ravens’ offensive coordinator – The Denver Post

Greg Roman will no longer be the Ravens’ offensive coordinator after a four-year run in which he designed the most productive ground game in NFL history but frustrated fans by failing to build a commensurate passing attack.

The Ravens enjoyed the greatest offensive season in franchise history in 2019 but also suffered some of their most frustrating defeats with Roman calling the plays. He helped unleash quarterback Lamar Jackson as one of the sport’s most exciting offensive centerpieces, but critics wondered if he ultimately held Jackson back with unimaginative passing designs.

The 2022 season was a rocky cap to his rocky tenure. The Ravens started hot and dominated opponents on the ground to secure a playoff spot. But their passing game, short on talent to begin with, lost steam as the year went on. They sputtered repeatedly in the red zone and did not score more than one touchdown in any of their last six regular-season games.

Fans became enraged by Roman’s play calling one final time when he sent quarterback Tyler Huntley on a goal-line sneak instead of handing the ball to running back J.K. Dobbins or Gus Edwards at a pivotal juncture of the Ravens’ 24-17 playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. A Cincinnati linebacker knocked the ball from Huntley’s grip, and defensive end Sam Hubbard returned it for a go-ahead 98-yard touchdown. Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended the call afterward, saying the execution, not the concept, was off.

Regardless, Harbaugh will now search for a new coordinator to breathe life into an offense that stagnated down the stretch each of the last two seasons. That process will be complicated by the uncertainty around Jackson’s future with the Ravens and by the lack of talent at wide receiver on the team’s current roster. There are potential internal candidates such as wide receivers coach Tee Martin and quarterbacks coach James Urban, but prominent outside candidates might be reluctant to design an offense around Jackson without knowing if the impending free agent will be around to run it in 2023 and beyond.

Roman, 50, had served as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills before he joined the Ravens as a senior offensive assistant and tight ends coach in 2017. He was promoted to assistant head coach in 2018. He had built a reputation as a wizard of the running game, but his offenses in San Francisco and Buffalo had stagnated thanks to bottom-of-the-barrel passing production.

Harbaugh named Roman coordinator before the 2019 season, believing no one was better qualified to design an offense around Jackson’s unique skills. The plan worked spectacularly at first as the Ravens set a single-season rushing record with 3,296 yards and led the league in scoring. Jackson won Most Valuable Player honors, throwing 36 touchdown passes with just six interceptions. Roman was one of the league’s most lauded assistants, with speculation building that he might be in line for a head-coaching opportunity.

The Ravens crashed in a 28-12 playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans, failing to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Fans were nonetheless thrilled that Roman would return for another go in 2020. The Ravens continued running the ball with remarkable efficiency that season but took a step back as their passing production cratered. Roman’s offense again flopped in the divisional round of the playoffs, scoring just three points on a windy night in Buffalo.

The Ravens and Jackson jumped to a hot start in 2021 but lost their way at midseason as injuries along the offensive line left them toothless against the blitz. An ankle injury to Jackson sealed their fate as they crashed out of the playoff race over the last six weeks of the season. Roman took his share of the blame as they fell to 17th in scoring despite ranking sixth in total yardage. A vocal subsection of fans begged Harbaugh to fire him, arguing that the team’s passing game would never improve with him in charge.

This story will be updated.

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