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The Truth About Greg Roman

Greg Roman
Photo Credit: Baltimore Ravens
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According to Willie Snead

Tyler Dunne from the podcast, Go Long, recently sat down with former Ravens WR Willie Snead. Snead, always a tough, hard-nosed, dependable teammate while in Baltimore, shared a few interesting things about the Ravens offense, specifically offensive coordinator Greg Roman and how his schemes in the passing game leave a lot to be desired.

We’ve all heard similar things before from the likes of another former Ravens receiver, Steve Smith, Sr. and the objective mind of Hall-of-Fame quarterback QB Kurt Warner. That being said, Snead didn’t come off as bitter. He presents his thoughts fairly through the lens of a receiver in the NFL. He presents the reality of the Ravens offense.

Here are a few highlights from the interview…

Willie Snead
Photo Credit: Getty Images; Illustration: Go Long

On the differences between the Ravens offense and that of the Saints…

“[When the Ravens] made the transition from Joe to Lamar, that’s when they started really leaning on the run and Lamar’s run ability. I still finished that year leading the team in catches, but the two years after that it was overwhelmingly like 70 percent run and 30 percent pass. It wasn’t a slot-friendly offense.”

On the route concepts in Roman’s offense…

“When we’re comparing Greg Roman to a Sean Payton offense or Greg Roman to a Jon Gruden offense, it’s like night and day. There’s a lot more creativity in the passing game. If the Ravens had more creativity in the passing game and they put more emphasis on it during the season, I think more receivers would be open to coming.

“Because Lamar is a great player to play with. He’s all about the team. He’s fun. He brings the energy every single day. You want to play with quarterbacks like that. But the system pushes guys away. That’s why the Ravens are always drafting two receivers every year. They keep them young. They keep them locked in on contracts, but for an older veteran guy coming in, he might get one shot to do this. I don’t know if the Ravens are going to be that one shot for them unless you’re a tight end or a big-bodied receiver who can win those 50/50 balls.”

On Hollywood Brown wanting out of Baltimore…

“He had to do what was best for him. I don’t blame him. He’s been frustrated the past couple seasons. He has a contract coming up and he wants to put himself in the best position to get paid.”

On what a Sean Payton offense looks like vs. Roman’s

“A lot more motion, shifting, trying to create matchups. Get those 1-on-1 matchups in space. I know Sean wasn’t big into play-action off the run game but he’ll get into that empty set and go five wide and start throwing different types of concepts at you that make defenses start to bite and here comes a wide-open hole across the middle. That’s game-plan specific.

“Greg Roman is just more run-heavy. He’s got misdirection. He’s got play action. He’s got power game. He’ll be a hell of a run-game coordinator in somebody’s offense, but I just think the passing game needs a little bit more juice.”

On the play calling in Baltimore and its impact on receivers…

“The tight ends get more creativity than the receivers. I don’t want to say the play calling in itself, but when you’re putting in plays vs. certain defenses you know what certain stuff is going to work and what isn’t going to work. So every week has to be a brand-new game plan for this specific team. Now if you’re just copying and pasting from one week to the other, you see in the NFL, these defensive coordinators are great. So if they see something once or see it twice, they’re going to lock that in and you probably won’t be able to get it that time. You’ve got to be able to shift guys around and have different motions to make it look like one thing and it’s completely different. Those types of coaches take it to the next level, like Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur. Those guys put guys in position. They’ll shift and motion guys to identify that matchup and then exploit it. Those are the offenses I would like to be in and I know Hollywood is in that spot now where you can showcase all of your talent, all of your passing game. Not just the run game.”

[Related Article: Greg Roman, A Convenient Fall Guy]

Props to Tyler Dunne for conducting a thorough interview. You can listen to the podcast or read the complete article at the links below:

My biggest takeaways from this and things that I’ll be paying specific attention to moving forward:

James Proche is an untapped talent for the Ravens. He’s also a prototypical slot receiver. It will be interesting to see how Roman employs him and if Snead’s negative outlook for slot receivers in the Ravens offense plays out the same way for Proche.

• The truth about the Ravens offense and former receivers in it, is out there. It’s undeniable. Other receivers and their agents are well aware. They talk, and it makes it challenging for GM Eric DeCosta to bring in free agent receivers, particularly those looking to land at a receiver-friendly spot enabling pass catchers to shine and put up numbers that will be viewed favorably when negotiating their next contract. That may be why T.Y. Hilton and Juju Smith-Schuster turned down the Ravens in 2021. It may be why another veteran receiver is NOT yet on the 2022 roster. EDC might have to pay more to attract a receiver than a more pass-oriented team and to do so, in the Ravens scheme, it just doesn’t make sense while attempting to get the biggest ROI on cap dollars spent.

• Snead’s thoughts on the Ravens being a good landing spot for tight ends is interesting. It might help explain why they’ve fairly regularly dipped into the draft twice during the same draft to select tight ends.

• The best coordinators create schemes that most adeptly fit the skill-sets of the players on the roster. For now, that means that Roman should be run-oriented. And given the relative importance of receivers in his scheme, EDC is smart to bring in college talent to play receiver and get the most out of them while on their rookie contracts. It’s the best play when considering cap implications.

The Ravens hope to get back to the standard of excellence they set back in 2019 when Lamar was the league’s unanimous MVP. And if they do, the expectation is that this time around, the offense is capable of finishing the job and not soil the bed in the postseason. A time during which, Roman’s style of offense sputters.

A time during which the Ravens haven’t shown the ability to “Go Long”.

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