With Justin Fields potentially coming in, could Greg Roman be the perfect coach to lead the New York Jets forward?
One of the leading candidates to be the Jets’ starting quarterback in 2021 is Justin Fields, the dazzling Ohio State prospect who has long been considered the favorite to be taken with the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Fields has excellent size, toughness, and raw arm talent, but it is his mobility and athleticism that puts him over the top as a top-tier quarterback prospect.
The NFL’s best coach when it comes to mobile, athletic quarterbacks? That might be Greg Roman.
Roman, a 48-year-old native of Atlantic City, NJ, has built a strong resume of leading mobile passers to success. He has been Baltimore’s offensive coordinator over the past two seasons, helping Lamar Jackson achieve stardom and building a dominant offense around him.
From 2019-20, Baltimore led the NFL in points per game (31.2). The Ravens had the NFL’s No. 1 offense according to DVOA in 2019 and they still ranked solidly at No. 11 in 2020 despite heavy losses on the offensive line.
Roman joined the Ravens as their senior offensive assistant and tight ends coach in 2017, and he was elevated to assistant head coach and tight ends coach in 2018 before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2019. Prior to that, he worked similar magic in Buffalo.
Roman was the Bills’ offensive coordinator in 2015 (he also held the position into 2016 but was fired after a Week 2 loss to the Jets), leading Tyrod Taylor to by far his best season in the NFL. Taylor ranked fifth in the NFL with an average of 8.0 yards per pass attempt under Roman in 2015. In all other seasons of his career, Taylor has thrown for a poor average of 6.7 yards per attempt. Taylor also averaged a career-high 40.6 rushing yards per game under Roman in 2015. Buffalo’s offense ranked ninth in DVOA.
From 2011-14, Roman handled offensive coordinator duties in San Francisco. In 2011, he had success with the only quarterback he has coached in his career that you probably wouldn’t consider a “runner.” Roman led Alex Smith – who at that point had been a massive disappointment over his first six seasons – to a career-best 90.7 passer rating in 2011, ninth-best in the NFL that season. The 49ers went 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship.
Smith was having another career-best year in 2012 (104.1 passer rating, which remains his second-best over 16 years in the NFL) before Colin Kaepernick swiped the quarterbacking job midway through the season. Roman helped lead Kaepernick to the best success of his career as well, including a Super Bowl run in 2012.
The Kaepernick-led 49ers ranked fifth, eighth, and 14th in offensive DVOA under Roman from 2012-14, respectively. In 2015, the first year after Roman’s exit, they ranked 28th. Kaepernick averaged a solid 7.5 yards per pass attempt in his three seasons under Roman from 2012-14 (10th-best of 35 qualifiers over that span) before dipping all the way down to 6.7 over his two seasons without Roman from 2015-16 (31st of 35 qualifiers over that span).
So, yeah, if you’re looking for someone to get the most out of a quarterback who is gifted with athletic talent, Roman is your guy.
He has not been reported to have interviewed with the Jets or any other NFL team yet, but time remains for Roman to garner interest from around the league.
Could the Jets build a Roman Empire around Justin Fields? Ben Blessington and Michael Nania spoke to Ravens analytics and film expert Brent of Ravens Numbers to learn more about whether Roman is cut out to make the leap to head coach.