Lamar Jackson, John Harbaugh React to Ravens, Stanford Rumors

Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh

Getty Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh responded to rumors a key Ravens' coach is talking to Stanford.

Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh know there’s a chance they could lose a key play-caller to the collegiate ranks. Stanford are on the lookout for a new head coach after David Shaw stepped down following over 10 years at the helm, and the Cardinal have already spoken to a member of the Baltimore Ravens’ coaching staff with ties to Palo Alto.

It’s a name many observers of the Ravens wouldn’t mind seeing leave Baltimore. Harbaugh and Jackson are likely to feel differently, though, since they’ve both trusted this oft-criticized coach at key moments in recent years.

Coach and QB Wary of Rumors

Harbaugh confirmed Stanford have already been in touch with his offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, although those conversations are merely “preliminary,” per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

The Ravens’ head coach wouldn’t be pressed on what those talks mean, but Harbaugh did say he’s ready to adapt to Roman’s departure if it comes to that, saying, “We’ll just cross that bridge when we get to it,” per Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun:

While Harbaugh wasn’t short of words about Roman’s situation, Jackson explained his surprise about the reports: “I was trying to stay off Twitter during that time probably,” per Ravens Vault co-host Sarah Ellison:

Jackson’s decision to avoid social media may have been due to the controversy following the Ravens losing 28-27 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12. It involved Jackson’s profanity-laden response to a tweet from a fan, an outburst the Ravens’ franchise quarterback subsequently deleted.

His lack of a response to rumors Roman could be moving on is somewhat surprising. Roman has developed an offense around Jackson’s specific skills since being named coordinator in 2019.

To some, that carefully packaged offense is holding back the Ravens and their star QB.

In-Demand Coach Having Problems in 2022

Roman told Clifton Brown of getting the better of a formidable Denver Broncos’ defense is his primary concern ahead of any thoughts about Stanford: “All the rumors and whatnot aside … We’ve got a great group of players and coaches here. Our singular focus is on this week’s game against Denver and (its) top-ranked defense.”

Roman’s status as one of the favorites for the Stanford job is due to his two seasons as tight ends and offensive tackles coach from 2009-10. His time on campus saw the Cardinal win the Orange Bowl under the guidance of Harbaugh’s brother Jim.

Roman has struggled to replicate the same success in the pros, despite stints as OC for the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. Some key problems followed him to Baltimore, where the 50-year-old is overseeing an offense ranked eighth in points and 11th in yards.

Those numbers are good, but a little deceiving. More revealing is how a passing game led by Jackson, perhaps the most dynamic, dual-threat playmaker at his position in the game, has mustered just 2,231 yards, the fifth-fewest in the league.

Jackson and Roman have both struggled to adapt to the dearth of standout wide receivers on the roster, but even former Ravens wideouts have suggested scheme is to blame. Among them, Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals on draft day earlier this year, revealed “the system wasn’t for me.”

The Ravens remain a run-heavy team on Roman’s watch, but the throwback approach isn’t yielding great returns. Not when his offense “has scored just two touchdowns in nine red zone trips over the past two games,” according to Brown.

Roman offered a boilerplate and slightly bland response to his unit’s struggles inside the 20, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley:

Many would like to see some new ideas from an offense too reliant on designed runs from Jackson and passes to tight ends. Variety isn’t the only issue facing Roman, who has had to answer to the Ravens’ difficulty snapping the ball before the play-clock expires.

Roman attempted to excuse the pre-snap problems by citing “headset issues” and “communication issues,” per Hensley:

He’s in the spotlight for the wrong reasons at the moment, but Roman’s value often goes underrated. Particularly his value to Jackson, who has been able to thrive in a scheme designed to maximize his rushing threats and hide his limitations as a passer, specifically throwing deep and to the outside.

The formula helped Jackson be named NFL MVP in 2019, but he may need an expanded playbook to help him prove his worth during a contract year. Alternatively, Jackson could end up like Russell Wilson, who has struggled mightily since leaving an offense the Seattle Seahawks tailored to his talents for the Broncos and a system needing him to do more.