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A Conversation With: Chargers OC Greg Roman

Convo With GR

The Bolts offensive coaching staff will be spearheaded by one of the most experienced playcallers in the NFL. recently chatted with new Chargers Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman to go over his first few weeks on the job, the potential of quarterback Justin Herbert and why a strong run game will be critical in 2024.

Here's our 1-on-1 conversation with Roman:

Greg, welcome to the Bolts! You're a couple weeks in, how has it been being with the Chargers?

"It's been great. Just really excited about this staff [Chargers Head Coach] Jim [Harbaugh] is putting together. We're right now entrenched the past couple of weeks with our staff room, really starting from scratch and really putting a system together and trying to do it the best it's ever been done, the best we've ever done it. So we're really collaborating on that, it's a big time collaboration. Throughout that process, we as staff members get to learn a lot about each other, how we think, our experiences, what we've done in the past, new ways to do things. All those things are encouraged and it's a long process because you're going through things at a granular level."

What's your focus early on knowing September is still seven, eight months away?

"Our players are going to be here in early April, so we want to have everything that we need for them at that point ready. By then, we've gone through it several times and worked our way through it. But the first thing you got to do is put the system together. You got to try to create the edges of that system, the outline of that system and put everything inside of it. Then you get the flexibility and adaptability to move around according to the different players you have. You don't want to just say, 'Hey, we got this player, this is what we're doing'. Then you get another player who's totally different, you want your system to be able to accommodate all those possibilities. It's exciting, it's an exciting process for us and as coaches, I think we all get to learn, put ourselves through the paces and get to learn and grow being able to do that."

You've been with Coach Harbaugh for a long time. What do you cherish about your relationship?

"I cherish everything about him. He's a special guy in every sense of the word. He's a great person first and foremost, so it's always good when you have a ton of respect for the person you work for and I certainly do. I think for me personally, he was the first guy that really believed in me and gave me an opportunity when I went to Stanford with him and then the 49ers and whatnot. We had a good run there."

Let's get into Justin Herbert. What do you know about him and what have you seen from afar?

"Thoroughly excited about working with Justin. It's a really exciting prospect to work with him. I remember his first game against the Chiefs a few years back and I remember we were playing the Chiefs the next week, so I got to watch his film. He played in that game and he wasn't expecting to. I remember saying to myself, 'Woah, does this guy have some ability?' I can see watching him play throughout the years, potential is enormous. He's a meticulous thinker, he's extremely smart, make any throw on the field, all that stuff. We're really looking forward to collaborating with him and doing something special here with the LA Chargers."

The Los Angeles Chargers today named Greg Roman offensive coordinator.

How do you unlock that potential?

"Well, I think you have things working on every front. Everything is important. His development fundamentally and understanding the offense is important, but the offensive line functioning properly and at a high level, that's important. The tight ends, the backs, the receivers, all those things go into that equation. Football is the ultimate team sport and one Football is the ultimate team sport and one person can't do it all, so we've got to be able to not only have skill players and have them on the same page, we have to have the big fellas on the same page too. The big fellas up front. It's all part of a vision for what your offense can be. There's times you got to run the ball in this league, there's times you have to throw the ball and then there's the times you can do either, but you want to be able to do both at a high level to truly see your potential."

My next question was about the run game. It's been good everywhere you've been. How much pride do you take in that?

"One of my guiding principles is we're going to be a first-rate version of ourselves, not a second-rate version of somebody else. So we're going to create and forge our own identity and that in itself is going to be a really fun process for everybody. We're going to create that identity. As far as running the football, I've been fortunate just with the players I've been able to work with over the years and the fact that they buy in. If they buy in, great things are going to happen. There's a process there where we're going to put the system in and we're going to have to work through things and get on the same page, that's an important process and it's an exciting one. That's the goal, to really create a balanced offense where a defense can't just say, 'We're going to stop this'."

How much can a strong run game help a quarterback?

"I'm sure everybody has a different opinion on that, that's the beauty of this. That's why so many people are so passionate about the Chargers and the NFL in general. How much can a run game help a quarterback? Enormously. I really look forward to developing our system here with Justin and him becoming a master of the run game as well so he can be the maestro at the line of scrimmage when need be and get us in the run we want to get into or the pass we want to get into or whatnot. That's an exciting prospect."

You've worked with a bunch of different quarterbacks in your career. How have you tailored your offenses to what they do well?

"I think that's the key. You're teaching principles and you're working our football system, but at a certain point you start to get a feel of what that quarterback is good at, what he likes. The communication process is very important there. You really start to tailor things for success. The team success comes first before any statistical thing that might come up. If you're playing winning football and you're playing the game a certain way, all these great things are going to happen along the way. But how we play, how hard we play, focus we can dial in, those are the things that are going to allow all those great things to happen."

Take a look back at the best photos of Justin Herbert's 2023 campaign

How much does having a standout left tackle like Rashawn Slater help your job?

"I think the second day I was here he came up to my office and I got to meet him. What a great guy, can't wait to get working with him. Tons of talent. If you have that left tackle there, it's not something you ever want to take for granted. You can easily forget how important it is until you don't have one. Really looking forward to getting to work with all those guys, but he's a special guy that we see being a cornerstone here for a long time."

How do you look at the O-line group in terms of team success? Put another way, how does a good O-line positively affect the whole offense?

"It's critical. It's what has to happen first. For the guys running the ball to be successful, the offensive line — and tigt ends and receivers — have to block. And in order for the passing game to function at a high, high level, that offensive line has to be really dialed in as a unit. That's so important. Vince Lombardi once said that football at its core is a game of blocking and tackling. Our ability to block people is really going to open things up for everyone in the offense."

A big-picture question here: how has the NFL changed since you first became an OC back in 2011? And how have you changed?

"OK, that's a good question. I think the league itself is cyclical in terms of trends. Tampa 2 kind of went out for awhile after the Cover 3 with Seattle. Now you see the Tampa 2 started to phase back in again. On offense, RPOs were really big and then they kind of calmed down. Now that people have figured out some other and different ways to do them, they're creeping back up. I definitely think there's a little bit more of a college element to the game than when I first started. But it's still football and it still comes down to the basic fundamentals that you have to do well over and over and over.

"How have I changed? I've definitely evolved every year. Really try to analyze one's self and see if I'm looking at things the right way or if there's a better way to look at things. That's something I really try to do but I think everything with me has grown and evolved. Just trying to grow and improve and get better all the time."

Final one here, what is your first message to players going to be when they come back in April?

"Hey! How are you guys doing?!" [laughs]

"They message is going to be that we have a lot to do and that we have a lot ahead of us with a lot of things to go through. But let's take this thing one day at a time, one meeting at a time, one play at a time. Just get to know each other and let's get going and work together. Then I'll probably start talking about the vision, big-picture to small, of what we want to put together here. And then we'll go to work."

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