Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, is receiving head coach interest around the NFL. It is no surprise given Roman’s work with second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson and the offense he was tasked with constructing after the 2018 season. With Jackson receiving most of the accolades, and rightfully so, Roman may be in for a promotion as a result.
Originally from New Jersey, Roman learned at a young age how to persevere. As the youngest of three boys to a single mother, Roman delivered newspapers when he was just ten years old to help make ends meet. Concurrently, Roman was given a once in a lifetime opportunity thanks to his uncle, Jack Clary.
At the age of 11, young Roman was introduced to legendary NFL head coach and owner Paul Brown. Because of his uncle’s connection, Roman served as Brown’s gofer during several Cincinnati Bengals training camps. Brown also invited Roman to Miami in 1989 when the Bengals played the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, where Roman shagged practice kicks leading up to kickoff.
The extra money Roman earned as a child also helped to afford private school. Roman’s mother always stressed the importance of education to him and his brothers. So when he was old enough, Roman began attending Holy Spirit High School, and of course, he’d play on the football team.
After his senior year at Holy Spirit, Roman was named to the All-South Jersey team. He’d graduate in 1991, and receive an academic scholarship to attend John Carroll University located in University Heights, Ohio.
At 5-foot-8, 255-pounds, Roman became a two-year starter at nose guard for the John Carroll Blue Streaks. Then coach, Tony DeCarlo, says it was Roman’s motor and drive to succeed that earned him playing time.
In his senior season, Roman recorded 80 tackles and 6.0 sacks earning All-Ohio Athletic Conference honors. The Blue Streaks’ defense allowed less than 10 points per game that season and Roman concluded his college career with 145 tackles, 20 tackles-for-loss, and 9.5 sacks.
DeCarlo says to this day that Roman became one of his all-time favorite players. He was an overachiever from the beginning.
Because of his relationship with former NFL head coach, Paul Brown, Roman became enamored with books about coaching. In an interview with Eric Branch of The Press Democrat, Roman said:
“I got exposed to one of the true icons of football and got to see how this guy went about his business. It gave me a real clear idea of what you could be. That was always a motivating kind of flashpoint for me in my life. It was always in the back of my mind that I would get into coaching.”
Ironically, when assigned with creating the revolutionary offense for the Ravens, Roman used his experiences as a tight ends coach and the knowledge acquired from his collection of more than 500 coaching books. He was bound to leave no stone unturned. That was Roman.
After college, Roman wasn’t interested in being a strength coach, but the opportunity came, and he landed his first job with a football team. Far from being the head coach, Greg Roman’s first NFL position was assistant to the Carolina Panthers strength and conditioning coach, Chip Morton.
What began with mopping weight room floors for free turned into a coaching assistant position in just Roman’s second year with the NFL franchise. Dom Capers, head coach at the time, said Roman was ‘his type of guy.’ And at a mere 23 years of age, Roman was coaching players like Sam Mills and Kevin Greene.
Climbing the ranks
After leaving Carolina following the 2001 season, Roman found work coaching various positions for the Houston Texans (2002-2005) and Baltimore Ravens (2006-2007). After Baltimore, Roman returned to run the offense of his high school’s football team with no NFL job offers. It would be three years before he’d take another NFL job.
In 2009, he accepted a position as an assistant coach to Jim Harbaugh at Stanford University. There he’d instruct tight ends, offensive tackles, and aid in coordinating the run game. It wouldn’t take long for people to notice Roman’s work ethic, high motor, and desire to be great. In 2010, Roman was a finalist for the Broyle’s Award, given annually to the nation’s top college football assistant coach.
The next season, Harbaugh left Stanford for the NFL and hired Roman as the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator. His claim to fame was his usage of quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ Super Bowl run in 2012, which they’d lose.
Because of his success with Kaepernick’s style of play, the Buffalo Bills hired Roman in 2015 with Tyrod Taylor at the quarterback position. While his impact was felt, he’d be relieved of his duties on September 16, 2016. Roman remained unemployed until he received a call from Harbaugh. Except for this time, it was NFL head coach John Harbaugh, Jim’s brother.
Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (Games Started)
w/ Greg Roman: 6.34
w/ Greg Roman: 6.38
w/ Greg Roman: 6.44
w/ Greg Roman: 8.19
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) December 30, 2019
The Raven hired Roman in 2017 as a senior offensive assistant and tight ends coach. He’d be promoted to assistant head coach in 2018 while continuing his TE coaching role before becoming the offensive coordinator ahead of the 2019 season. Thanks to two solid draft classes and an offseason of talent acquisition, Roman’s offensive design exploded Week 1.
Against the Miami Dolphins on opening weekend, the Ravens gained 643 yards on 73 plays (8.8 yards per play) on their way to scoring 59 points (42 in the first half). While this was against the Dolphins, the Ravens offense continued to steamroll teams.
For the year, the Ravens offense led the NFL in rushing yards (206.0), points (33.2), first downs (24.1), and time of possession (34:47). Most importantly, the Ravens offense will be known for its’ creativity and custom fit to the second-year quarterback, Jackson.
Should I stay, or should I go?
Roman will have his hands full the next several weeks as the Ravens are favorites to appear in the Super Bowl on February 2, 2020. Knowing him, he’s fully committed to John Harbaugh and the Ravens’ players. But even if there are several offers for him when the dust settles on the 2019 season, would he want to leave?
As of right now, the Cleveland Browns have requested permission to interview Roman according to Adam Schefter.
Cleveland Browns have requested permission to interview Ravens' OC Greg Roman for their head-coaching vacancy, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 30, 2019
The Cleveland connection is easiest given Roman’s history with John Carroll University and his relationship with Paul Brown but the Dallas Cowboys could very well push for an interview, too.
A name to keep an eye on with the #Cowboys: #Ravens OC Greg Roman. With the Garrett situation still unresolved, Dallas hasn’t requested an interview, but I’m told there is some support for a look at Roman. Dak isn’t Lamar Jackson, but Roman’s run-dominant concepts are appealing.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) December 31, 2019
With the Washington Redskins locking down Ron Rivera and the New York Giants more interested in a defensive mind, the Carolina Panthers would be the only other team looking to sit down with Roman. Still, he’d be leaving one of the most prolific offenses in the history of the NFL to take another job.
Then again, Roman has long strived to be an NFL head coach. When he was young and experienced Paul Brown’s world, he knew then and there he’d work as hard as possible to have that for himself one day. The time is now for Roman.