Racing game can improve, but Roman’s time is still up
On this week’s episode of the Purple PatrolAdam explored the idea of firing Greg Roman and why he thinks it’s absurd to do so now, especially after this game.
First, let me say that I agree with much of Adam’s article. If the Ravens fire Roman and go for a new OC, there certainly won’t be many changes to the playbook. He’s also correct that when the team gets Ronnie StanleyJK Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Nick Boyle back, that things should get better with the racing game. Of course, we don’t know because we don’t know how healthy they will be and how “normal” they will be. Can Roman overcome this?
He’s also right that it’s not just Roman’s fault that the running game isn’t good right now. The running back talent is awful. Yes, the line isn’t blocking very well at the moment, but the fullbacks are running into blockers, missing holes, showing poor vision and not showing much ability to break tackles or explode for big wins.
He’s also right that the passing game, where Roman has always struggled, is off to a good start. PFF’s Kevin Cole released a chart talking about offensive efficiency yesterday, and the Ravens and Bills have the best and most efficient passing games across two games. The Ravens are also first in offensive DVOA.
Updated offensive run and passing efficiency percentiles
– Eagles the most complete attack
– Bills and Ravens are the best passing teams, not good at running the ball
– Bengals struggling in both phases pic.twitter.com/awb4CIesxK
— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) September 20, 2022
So, with all of that being said, why would anyone want Roman to leave?
Well, first of all, as someone who would be happy to see him go, I’m not going to let a few games change my opinion of him. I wanted him to leave after last year. I didn’t think Roman was an OC capable of designing the passing game needed to win in today’s NFL.
By “winning,” I’m talking about the playoffs. You need to have an explosive passing game to win in January in today’s NFL. The Ravens are playing football like 10 years ago. It’s partly John Harbaugh’s fault and just the philosophy of the organization, something I talked about a lot in the offseason. However, Roman was never a good pass coordinator. The stats back that up over his career as an OC, just as they back him up as one of the best running play coordinators in NFL history.
Adam asked, “why don’t we give him credit for the passing game?”
My rebuttal to this is, why should we think he is the reason? Last year, the Ravens brought back Martin t-shirt and Keith Williams to help with the passing game. I think they had a bigger impact on the passing game than Roman. Is it right? Maybe, maybe not, but given that Roman has struggled in the past with the passing game, I think it’s a justifiable assumption to make.
On top of that, Roman can be very predictable. The attack is also slow. There is no rhythm. The team often comes to the line with only a few seconds left on the game clock (an issue that seemed to be at least partially resolved in Week 2). I also question the decision-making. The 3rd and 8 play, for example, before the justin tucker the FG go-ahead was a 35 yard pass to the end zone where Mark Andrews and another receiver were in the area. Why was this the game? Now of course, maybe lamar jackson missed someone below and made the wrong throw; however, why is Andrews going there anyway? He should be the guy you’re looking for to move the chains and keep the ball in this situation.
The offense had a huge game the other day and I agree that it seems foolish to blame Roman or the offense for the loss. That said, the Ravens had six possessions in the second half that totaled less than 10½ minutes, including three possessions that lasted 1:35 or less (really four, but I’m not counting the last possession). Taking your foot off the gas pedal, the predictability and just the general appeal of the vanilla game was a real deal, especially as you saw Miami come back, the defense gassed and the secondary injury (Marlon Humphrey missed 15 plays in that game and Miami scored four touchdowns while off the field).
The Ravens had 10 plays Sunday where they needed a yard to get a first down or a touchdown. They only converted three of those plays, and twice out of nine when they attempted to run it. It’s not all Roman’s fault. Execution counts and players did not execute. However, Roman didn’t try to change it either. He didn’t, for example, stretch the ground and try to run out of a shotgun. He kept trying to force him between tackles, which was a game that really wasn’t working on Sunday.
[Related: See what went wrong on all the short-yardage running plays in this video below]
Despite the attacking success, it was a game where they just needed to do more. Is it selfish to say that? Sure, but that’s how it goes sometimes. This is why football is the team sport par excellence. We saw the defense having to do this for years in Baltimore, but on Sunday the defense needed time and they needed help and when the offense was needed most, they fell back.
It is not a game or even a season. This is a wrestling career with what you need to win in today’s game. These are predictability, lack of adjustments in the game, lack of creativity in the passing game, lack of a good pace (when Lamar plays well when the pace is up) and the need to a new voice.
Again, it’s not all Roman’s fault. The execution of the players was poor. New DC Mike MacDonald had questionable calls and seemed to make things harder than necessary, especially for the young secondary. Communication needs to be better and it starts with him. Obviously, the defense crumbled in the fourth quarter and the communication between the players was, once again, pathetic. That said, the Offense and Roman saw this happen and they couldn’t bail out their counterparts.
Roman has been a good offensive coordinator here. The team scored a lot of points, won a lot of games and gained a lot of yards. He certainly deserves credit for that, but he also held the team back in important moments and I don’t see him being the CO that can help the team win multiple playoff games.
The average coordinator lasts 2.3 years in the NFL. This is the fourth year for Roman.
It’s just time to change.