The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
I’m not looking at this as a one-off article; I intend to write a series of fill-in-the-blank articles over the coming weeks: Who is ____________ and why should he be the next head coach of the Washington Redskins.
I decided to start today with Greg Roman.
Per Pro Football Reference, this is his coaching history:
After 24 years of coaching, mostly on the offensive side of the ball, Greg Roman has become a genius overnight because of Lamar Jackson.
That might sound like empty sarcasm, but it isn’t intended that way. The reason that Greg Roman is attracting so much attention is because so many people thought that Lamar Jackson was a wide receiver coming out of Louisville in 2018.
After getting to know him last year, Roman designed an offense around the talented athlete this season — an offense that is first in the league, scoring 35.1 points per game, and ranked second in yards per game, just a tenth of a yard behind Dallas.
Baltimore, as a result, is 9-2 with a three-game lead on the rest of the AFC North, and Lamar Jackson is probably most people’s current favorite to win the league MVP award for 2019. After his most recent game, in which the Ravens crushed the Rams 45-6 on Monday Night Football, Twitter was alight with talk of Lamar Jackson’s incredibleness.
Kirk Cousins once famously said that he owed his career to Sean McVay. Lamar Jackson will likely owe his to Greg Roman.
How did Greg Roman turn Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense into the talk of the NFL? NBC Sports Washington recently discussed that very question.
“It’s unique how he does it, but he does it based around the players that we have – quarterback, offensive line, tight ends, all of our guys,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He does a great job with that, according to what he thinks he’s going to see on defense. There are so many factors to it, it’s hard to even just sit here and list it all, because it’s not ever going to be one thing.”
Greg Roman has a history of producing offenses that are elite at rushing the ball, consistently good at scoring points, and ones that are careful with the ball, limiting turnovers. Again, from Pro Football Reference:
It’s clear that Roman knows how to design a run-centered offense that limits turnovers and puts point on the board, and that he knows how to win.
“When he was in San Fran, they were lethal,” Willie Snead IV said. “His creativity in the run and just to keep teams off-balance to respect both run and pass. Our run scheme is so unique, he takes a lot of time and effort to put that together. He’s a genius when it comes to that.”
Of course, the Lamar Jackson-led offense is absolutely killing the rest of the NFL at the moment, with Roman as it’s mastermind. They rank first in points (34.1), second in total yards (428.6), third in yards per play (6.4), first in third-down conversion (49 percent), and first in TOP (34:36). On the ground, the Ravens have the most rushing touchdowns (16), and rank first in runs more than 20 yards (15). They are tied for first in runs over 40 yards (five).
Roman has built an offense around the roster that is available to him, which features a quarterback that can beat opponents in multiple ways. The Baltimore offense is what the Redskins offense with RG3 might’ve been if things had been a little different. Ironically, it was probably Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata who ended that particular path to success for Griffin and the ‘Skins — and now, Griffin is the backup to Jackson in Baltimore.
Haskins isn’t Lamar Jackson
It would be a fair comment at this point to note that Greg Roman isn’t going to be bringing Lamar Jackson with him, and to acknowledge that Dwayne Haskins isn’t noted for his speed, mobility, or running style, but for his passing.
But that would ignore Roman’s history of success as an offensive coordinator, and sell short his earlier experience as a position coach, focusing at various times on tight ends, quarterbacks and offensive line.
It would also ignore the Redskins roster, which is set to feature Derrius Guice, Bryce Love, and — oh yeah — future hall of fame running back Adrian Peterson. With a young, developing quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, who would be a better coach than a guy like Roman, who can design a run-centered offense, is known for tailoring his scheme to his personnel, and is known for limiting turnovers and scoring lots of points?
Roman has coached four different quarterbacks to success in seven seasons as OC:
- 2011, 2012 Alex Smith
- 2013, 2014 Colin Kapernick
- 2015, 2016 Tyrod Taylor
- 2019 Lamar Jackson
One thing that jumps off the page is that all four of these quarterbacks are known primarily for their mobility, but that begs the question of whether Roman was hired to coach these run-first offenses because that’s what he’s good at, or whether he developed run-first offenses built around these quarterbacks because that’s what he was given to work with?
It’s possible that he can’t turn around a struggling team with a passing quarterback. Looking at his resume, Greg Roman was the quarterbacks coach with the Houston Texans in 2004-05. The quarterback? David Carr. The results? Not pretty.
But the Redskins are looking for a head coach. Dan Snyder likes flashy new toys, and Greg Roman is the flavor of the month.
One big problem is that his team is likely to make a deep playoff run — they may even play in the Super Bowl. Would Danny (or the fan base, for that matter) want to wait, potentially, until mid-February for the new head coach to take over? Can the Redskins afford, after firing Jay Gruden after Week 5, to stretch out the process of recruitment through most or all of January?
Greg Roman is an intriguing candidate for a head coaching position. He’s 47 years old, with a history of success and the hottest offense in the league. He knows Alex Smith very well, but doesn’t have a strong track record with signal callers like Dwayne Haskins.
But he’s likely to be one of the 4 or 5 hottest names in the head coaching sweepstakes this off-season, and a team that is prepared to wait a few weeks for him might score a coup that will pay off handsomely.
Of course, Roman is coaching in Baltimore right now, so he might not even have to move.
Rate Greg Roman as a head coaching prospect for the Washington Redskins:
This poll is closed
4 - He should be at the top of the list
3 - He definitely should be interviewed and considered
2 - Probably not a good fit for the Redskins
1 - No
0 - This guy has no business being a head coach anywhere