Making an unpopular case to keep Ravens OC Greg Roman in 2023

Ravens, Greg Roman (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Ravens, Greg Roman (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s future with the franchise has been a hot-button topic for a few years now, and rumors are yet again starting to swirl.

Following their early playoff exit, the Ravens are coming off one of their worst offensive scoring performances in recent history in part due to Lamar Jackson’s continued absence.

Ever since Jackson got injured in Week 13, Baltimore has scored just 12.25 average points per game in the regular season. In the Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens would have put up more than 20 points on the board for the first time since Week 12 had it not been for that disastrous Huntley fumble.

Yet the Ravens’ season has been spotted with “would’ves” and “could’ves” all year, and looking back, the Ravens should have done better in spite of Jackson’s injury.

They have no one to blame but themselves for their late season collapse, and just like last year, many fans are clamoring for offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s head.

Baltimore finished with a red zone scoring percentage of 44.4 percent, ranked 30th in the league only above the Jets and the Patriots. In truth, the Ravens had struggled to convert drives into touchdowns even when Jackson was healthy, as is evident by their groggy 13-3 win against the Panthers and their 27-28 loss to the Jaguars in which Justin Tucker made four field goals, three of which were within the 30-yard line.

Is Roman completely at fault? Probably not. But amid the Lamar Jackson trade speculation, there’s a sense that if anyone in the Ravens’ coaching staff were to get fired, it would be Roman.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, people around the league are “watching Greg Roman’s future closely” as “questions persist about whether his four-year stint as play-caller has run its course.”

Roman, who has one year remaining on his contract at $3.5 million, was linked to a potential departure last offseason, but the Ravens parted ways with then-defensive coordinator Wink Martindale instead. There’s some reason to believe rumors of Roman’s pending exit in 2023, but there’s also reason to dismiss them.

Greg Roman shouldn’t be on the hot seat after Ravens’ disappointing 2022 season

The aforementioned red zone issues are a real concern. Roman reached into his bag of tricks several times this season and came up with nothing — well, it was something but it amounted to nothing, as embodied by one notorious play that involved James Proche throwing to Kenyan Drake in the end zone.

Roman’s most sinful play-calling trait is perhaps his affinity for disguised quarterback and tight end runs when he has two perfectly healthy running backs capable of pounding the rock.

Whether Roman is a good schematic fit for the Ravens is a separate issue and largely depends on Lamar Jackson’s future with the franchise. Whether Roman is as incompetent as Ravens fans make him out to be, however, is just downright false.

Fans made their feelings known when someone scattered handwritten flyers that read “Fire Greg Roman” outside of the Ravens’ facility following the loss to the Browns.

Roman is polarizing. He sometimes plays with his toys too much (just give it to Dobbins already!) He can be unbelievably frustrating, and his offense admittedly regressed this season, ranking 16th in total yards per game and 19th in points per game.

But a bad play-caller he is not.

Even with the slight offensive regression, the Ravens rushed for 160.0 average yards per game, good for second in the league.

Roman was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2019, and since then, he has helped maximize Lamar Jackson’s strengths and built a creative offense around his dual-threat abilities. Don’t forget that Jackson was named league MVP in Roman’s first year as OC, and Baltimore became the first team in league history to average over 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards in a single season.

If fans want to whine and complain about that measly offensive performance against Cleveland, they also have to address the fact that the same slumping Ravens’ offense nearly beat the Bengals in the Wild Card round.

Roman put the Ravens in the driver’s seat for most of the game, dominating in time of possession and even holding a narrow lead at the half. Roman developed a solid game plan to attack Cincy on the ground and in the air, even making Tyler Huntley look good as Huntley went toe-to-toe with Joe Burrow for all four quarters (apart from Huntley’s unscripted leaping fumble, which was all on Huntley.)

Roman did with Huntley the same thing he has done with Jackson for the past several years: he played to those quarterbacks’ strengths and gave them the best chance to succeed. As long as Lamar Jackson remains with the Ravens, there’s a strong case to be made for Roman to stay, too.

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The Ravens’ fanbase may not like it, but this is not a popularity contest. With a healthy Lamar Jackson presumably returning in 2023, Roman should get another shot at redemption this upcoming season.

Stay tuned for updates following the Ravens’ season-ending press conference later today.