Justin Herbert playing like Lamar Jackson? What to expect from Chargers OC Greg Roman

New Chargers OC Greg Roman will transform the offense and unleash quarterback Justin Herbert as a running threat. Chargers fans should trust Jim Harbaugh.
Baltimore Ravens Training Camp
Baltimore Ravens Training Camp / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Head coach Jim Harbaugh is finalizing his coaching staff a week after he was officially introduced by the Chargers. Jesse Minter will be the defensive coordinator, Ryan Ficken will remain in charge of special teams and Greg Roman will be the new Chargers offensive coordinator.

Roman was Jim Harbaugh's OC with the 49ers from 2011-2014 and had the same role in Baltimore and Buffalo. Chargers fans are split on Greg Roman's offensive approach. Critics argue that he will underuse Justin Herbert's talent by relying heavily on the running game.

On the other hand, enthusiasts trust in Harbaugh's expertise to form his coaching staff, as is the case with Chargers insider Daniel Popper. Also, this new OC could finally establish Justin Herbert as a running menace.

Before it even hits the field, we can predict how the Chargers offense should perform given Roman's background and Jim Harbaugh's philosophy.

Chargers establishing a solid running game under Greg Roman

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has emphasized on the balance between the passing and running game. Though acknowledging Herbert's talent, Harbaugh doesn't want the entire team to fall on his shoulders. Therefore, Greg Roman seems to be the ideal OC to finally establish a consistent rushing offense.

Roman prioritized the running game in San Francisco, Buffalo, and Baltimore. He not only finished top ten in rushing attempts every season, but he also finished top 3 in seven of those ten years. Roman's strategy was successful, as he finished first in yards per carry four times (twice with the Bills and twice with the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens). The days of the Chargers' running game being putrid will be behind us.

Since Austin Ekeler will likely not return next season–and Saquon Barkley is an impossible dream from a cost-benefit perspective–the franchise would need to look to the NFL Draft and cheaper free agents to fill out the running back room, as well as develop Isaiah Spiller and Elijah Dotson.

As Roman's teams hardly throw the ball, his critics argue Justin Herbert will not shine like in prior seasons. But how valid are these comments, and how would he change Herbert's playing style?

Justin Herbert's role in the new Chargers offense

Greg Roman's offenses have finished at the bottom in passing attempts. As a matter of fact, he finished 31st or 32nd in seven of the ten years as offensive coordinator, including when Lamar Jackson won his first MVP award in 2019. His passing efficiency–measured in net yards per attempt–outpaces the passing attempts, but it's still not enough for a Justin Herbert-type-of-superstar.

Nevertheless, Chargers fans should rest assured that Justin Herbert will not only continue to be an elite passer, but he will also become a running threat from now on.

Jim Harbaugh was "starstruck" when meeting Justin, and also commented that he is the "crown jewel" of the NFL. Though there are other important players needed to achieve the desired passing and running game balance, Harbaugh implies Herbert will still be the team's cornerstone. Even more so if we consider that Harbaugh had never had such a talented and experienced QB and the massive contract extension Herbert signed in 2023.

Justin Herbert is a dual-threat quarterback. He has shown how good he is at running the ball (such as in the Steelers game in 2021), and he also did so consistently at Oregon. Fans and the sports media doubt his speed due to his size and physical strength. Both Harbaugh and Roman have coached mobile quarterbacks (such as 49ers' Colin Kaepernick), and Roman has spent his last four OC years alongside Lamar Jackson, perhaps the best dual-threat QB all-time.

Greg Roman's conservative heavy-running approach worries many Chargers fans for next season. However, Jim Harbaugh is bringing him to find the running and throwing equilibrium the Chargers have so lacked recently, as he wants a game plan in which the Chargers are not 100% dependent on Justin Herbert. They haven't won many games when Herbert has played "Superman" anyway...

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