Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman talks about starting the new offense from scratch and using new terminology and new schemes. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman was recognized as the top assistant in the NFL on Saturday night at the league’s annual awards show, being named AP Assistant Coach of the Year.
Roman, in his first season as offensive coordinator, reconstructed an offense around second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson that led the league in points per game (33.2) and set the single-season team rushing record (3,296 yards), previously set by the 1978 New England Patriots.
Earlier this month, Roman was also named Assistant Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers Association.
Roman, 47, joined the Ravens in 2017 as a senior offensive assistant and tight ends coach before being promoted to assistant coach in 2018. Roman was tapped to be the team’s next offensive coordinator and replace Marty Mornhinweg on Jan. 11, 2019, days after the Ravens were knocked out of playoffs at home by the Los Angeles Chargers.
Head coach John Harbaugh gave full creative license to an offensive mind who had familiarity coaching a quarterback with similar talents to Jackson. Roman’s first stint as an offensive coordinator in the NFL came with the San Francisco 49ers, where he coached Colin Kaepernick from 2011 to 2014.
As a dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick set the NFL single-game record for most rushing yards by a quarterback (181) in a playoff win over the Green Bay Packers. In that same postseason, Kaepernick led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII before falling to the Ravens.
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Under Roman’s leadership, the Ravens fielded the NFL’s most unorthodox, but balanced and efficient offense. Roman’s offense was rooted in read-option concepts that incorporated a vast use of pistol formation, motion and multi-tight end sets. No team ran as frequently (37.3 attempts per game) or with as much success (5.5 yards per attempt), defying the norm in what has increasingly become more of a passing league.
Still, the Ravens became the only team in NFL history to average both 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in a single season. The Ravens were also the only team in the league to score on over 50% of their offensive possessions.
Jackson, the AP NFL Most Valuable Player, had a breakout season under Roman, throwing for a league-high 36 touchdowns and setting the NFL’s single-season rushing record for a quarterback.
Roman received 41 of 50 votes from a nationwide panel of Associated Press voters. No other finalist received more than three votes. Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale received two votes.
The previous five winners of the Assistant Coach of the Year award, which was established in 2014, were head coaches the following season (Vic Fangio, Pat Shurmur, Kyle Shanahan, Todd Bowles) or previously a head coach (Wade Phillips). Roman interviewed with the Cleveland Browns for their head-coaching vacancy, but the Browns hired Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Greg Stefanski.
“I would like to thank the commitment from every coach, player and organizational staff member for this award,” Roman said in a statement released by the Ravens. “Out of this commitment, special and amazing achievements were born. We look forward to coming together again in the spirit of team to create a bright and exciting future.”