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There is justifiably a lot of enthusiasm around the NFL Los Angeles Chargers’ camp right now. That’s because of the arrival of new head coach Jim Harbaugh. And why not? He comes in on a triumphant note, having won the NCAA title at Michigan this past season.

There’s a new look around the locker room. Two of the team’s offensive mainstays – wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Austin Ekeler – are not in the picture.

The Bolts recently signed running back Gus Edwards to a two-year, $6.5 million contract. And he’ll get a lot of work, because of the familiarity he has with the team’s new offensive coordinator.

His name is Greg Roman, and if you haven’t heard of him, you should.

Here are the NFL numbers…

These are some of the NFL futures odds, as they have been posted at BetOnline:

Los Angeles Chargers NFL Odds by BetOnline

Prop Odds
To Win AFC West +325 +325
To Win AFC Title +1800 +1800
To Win Super Bowl +4000 +4000
Total Wins Over 8.5 (-115), Under 8.5 (-115)


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The Roman effect elsewhere

Roman, a native of Atlantic City, has been banging around coaching staff since 1995. His experience had primarily been in the NFL when he joined Harbaugh as associate head coach in 2009. There, he worked with Andrew Luck, one of the top dropback QB prospects in years.

He then followed Harbaugh into the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. He was working with Alex Smith, a “game manager” more than anything else. But Smith was having a strong season when he went down with an injury.

At that point, it became necessary to go with an inexperienced kid at the quarterback spot.

The age of Kaepernick

The Niners had to go with Colin Kaepernick, who had come in the draft only the year before. He was far from a polished passer, so his arm wasn’t going to carry the team.

What Roman did was change things up, literally on the fly.

He developed a read-option look that highlighted Kaepernick’s ability to run with the football. Defenses were not prepared for it,. And even when they were, they could not stop it. The biggest highlight may have been Kaepernick’s 181 rushing yards in a playoff game against Green Bay. That set a record for most yards on the ground for a quarterback in a single game.

The Niners went to the Super Bowl, losing to the Baltimore Ravens, who were coached by John Harbaugh. That was Roman’s eventual employer.

The age of Lamar

In between gigs with San Francisco and Baltimore, Roman was offensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills. During his time, the Bills became one of the top rushing teams in the NFL. But Roman was fired by Rex Ryan early in the 2016 season.

The next season Roman landed in Baltimore and was installed as offensive coordinator. What he brought was a playbook for the run game that was said to be the most extensive in pro football. And the Ravens had every intention of using it, and drawing upon Roman’s experience with Kaepernick.

That’s because they felt Lamar Jackson, a first-round draft choice, would eventually win the QB job. Baltimore had to transition from an immobile dropback guy (Joe Flacco) to someone who emphasized making plays with his feet.

Once again Roman did this on the fly. And the rest is history. The Ravens became the highest-scoring team in the NFL in Roman’s first full year as the OC. And Jackson eventually won an MVP award.

The inevitable end in Baltimore

The Ravens sustained some playoff disappointments. And of course, the fingers started pointing.

Jackson described the offense as “predictable,” although it had more success on the ground than any team in the NFL. John Harbaugh may have wanted to avoid punishment by not running the QB as much. Who knows.

Roman was relieved of his duties and replaced by Todd Monken, after which they suffered another playoff disappointment. So maybe it wasn’t Roman’s fault after all.

Reuniting with Jim Harbaugh

Roman took a year off from coaching, to give himself a different perspective and look at the game with a wider lens. Reportedly he was in the running for the head coaching job at Stanford. But Roman, by his admission, feels he’s better suited as an offensive coordinator.

What can we expect?

Well, Justin Herbert is a different quarterback than Lamar Jackson. Running with the ball on designed plays is not a part of his arsenal.

What we are likely to get from the Chargers is simple. In a sense it will be similar to what Harbaugh and Roman operated with Andrew Luck at Stanford It’ll be an offense that will go down the field when they throw it and play Smashmouth when they run it. On that, they are on the same page.

It should be fun to watch, believe me.

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