Longtime Ravens’ Coach ‘Stepping Down:’ Report

John Harbaugh

Getty Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh is losing one of his key assistants.

The Baltimore Ravens are set for a major shakeup among head coach John Harbaugh’s staff after it was confirmed a longtime assistant is “stepping down to pursue other opportunities.”

Greg Roman will relinquish his role as offensive coordinator, per a statement from the 50-year-old’s agency, confirmed by Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic:

Roman made a statement revealing he’d spoken with Harbaugh before making the decision to “explore new challenges,” per The Baltimore Banner’s Jonas Shaffer:

The decision brings an end to Roman’s second tenure with the Ravens. He first served as assistant offensive line coach in 2006, before returning to Baltimore as a Senior offensive assistant in 2017.

Harbaugh promoted Roman to offensive coordinator in 2019. Despite the initial success of helping Lamar Jackson be named NFL MVP in his first season as the starting quarterback, Roman’s tenure as a play-caller hasn’t always been a popular one.

Change Was Inevitable on Pedestrian Offense

The offense Roman directed ranked 19th in points and 16th in yards in 2022. A familiar problem of a one-dimensional attack again blighted Roman’s attempts to progress his unit.

There was nothing wrong with the way the Ravens ran the football. Baltimore amassed 2,720 yards on the ground, the second-most in the league behind the Chicago Bears.

Jackson’s former backup Robert Griffin III applauded Roman’s brilliance designing running plays, but sounded a familiar note of caution about what the scheme meant for wide receivers:

There were often problems through the air, where Roman’s pedestrian attack generated a mere 3,202 yards, the third-fewest this season, to go along with a measly 6.6 yards per attempt.

Big plays were in short supply in Roman’s passing schemes, as Jackson and backups Tyler Huntley and Anthony Brown mustered just 33 completions of 20 yards or more. Only the New York Giants managed fewer with 28.

Roman may have had few fans in the stands, but Harbaugh was quick to praise one of his trusty lieutenants. He released an official statement crediting Roman with leading the “development and success of a record-setting offense in Baltimore for several seasons.”

Few would agree about the level of success Harbaugh attributed to Roman, but the coach’s next choice for OC has to be able to build an offense capable of taking would-be free agent Jackson to greater heights.

Ravens Must Get Jackson Back to His Best

Assuming the Ravens finally agree a new long-term contract with Jackson, it will be imperative to get No. 8 back to his best. Roman could never get Jackson to match or better the heights he scaled in 2019.

The Ravens’ offense declined as a result, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley:

Roman’s run-first system often appears best for a dual-threat like Jackson, but the Ravens need to see improvements in their QB1’s skills and range as a passer.

His case would be helped if Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta equipped Jackson and Roman’s replacement with a marquee wide receiver or two. The Ravens have been short of those, but the dearth of talent at the position can’t excuse all of Roman’s failings.

Injuries haven’t helped, but Hensley detailed how Jackson’s development has stalled: “Over the past two seasons, Jackson threw 33 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions. The Ravens totaled the third-fewest passing yards (194.1) in the past three seasons.”

Any search for Roman’s replacement is likely to begin in house, with Zrebiec citing how “quarterbacks coach James Urban has been viewed in some circles as a future NFL offensive coordinator.” Jackson has also “praised his position coach on numerous occasions.”

Urban will be a strong candidate, but Zrebiec also referenced how “tight ends coach George Godsey, formerly an offensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans, does bring play-calling experience.”

Whoever he hires, the onus is firmly on Harbaugh to select a coordinator Jackson is going to be comfortable with, but one who will still push the 26-year-old to iron out the deficiencies in his game.

The next coordinator could be a decisive factor in convincing Jackson to stay put.