Can you imagine Justin Herbert with a great running game?m

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers are beginning a new chapter, as they have netted Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach, and reunited him with his former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator in Greg Roman. Roman last served as the offensive coordinator for the other Harbaugh brother, John, with the Baltimore Ravens, and he’s known for running the ball. In fact, he views the ground game as the key to quarterback Justin Herbert reaching the next level.

“Can you imagine Justin Herbert with a great running game?” Roman said, via ESPN. “… We don’t know, but I can imagine what it might look like. So that’s kind of the vision.”

The Chargers’ rushing offense ranked eighth-worst in the league in 2023 (96.6 rushing yards per game), and third-worst in 2022 (89.6 rushing yards per game). At first, Roman’s comments could be viewed as a shot to running back Austin Ekeler, who is now a free agent looking for a new deal. But the fact is that the Chargers’ rushing attack hasn’t finished in the top half of the league since 2018. In 2023, Ekeler averaged a career-low in yards per rush (3.5), and yards per touch (4.6). He scored just six total touchdowns in 14 games played after leading the NFL in touchdowns from scrimmage in both 2021 and 2022.

A run game consists of more than just the running back. Also factored in are offensive line efficiency and scheme. Roman showed in Baltimore he absolutely can establish the run. The Ravens led the league in rushing yards per game in two of Roman’s four seasons as offensive coordinator, and they never finished outside the top three.

“I think in this league, you can really, really help dictate the defenses if you have a strong running attack,” Roman said. “If you really talk to most defensive coordinators in this league and got ’em off to the side when they’re playing a really good running team, they’re sweating a little bit. They’re sleeping a little less that week.”

It’s clear the Chargers are going to put an emphasis on the ground game in 2024. As for who Roman’s running backs will be, that remains to be seen.

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