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Jim Harbaugh Chargers coaching staff: What to know about new coordinators Greg Roman, Jesse Minter | Sporting News

The Chargers landed the biggest fish of the NFL’s coach hiring cycle by bringing Jim Harbaugh back to the NFL. And now Harbaugh’s full staff for the 2024 NFL season is in place.

Los Angeles was tied to offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Jesse Minter after hiring Harbaugh. Sure enough, the Chargers landed both of the candidates to serve as Harbaugh’s top assistants.

Harbaugh has experience with both Roman and Minter. He coached with the former over six years at Stanford and with the 49ers, while the latter spent the last two seasons at Michigan with Harbaugh.

Both Roman and Minter also worked for Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, so they can join the growing list of talented coaches who served under both brothers.

MORE: Why Jim Harbaugh left Michigan to join the Chargers, explained

Did the Chargers make good hires? Here’s what to know about Roman and Minter, including how veteran offensive coordinator Roman could impact Justin Herbert as he prepares to work with a fourth different offensive coordinator in his fifth NFL season.

Who is Greg Roman?

Roman is a longtime NFL offensive coordinator who is working with Harbaugh for the second time in their NFL careers. The two first worked together at Stanford, where Roman served as an assistant coach for two seasons under Harbaugh before they made the jump to the NFL together.

Roman served as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator in each of Harbaugh’s four seasons with the team, and the duo built one of the strongest running offenses in the NFL.

San Francisco never ranked lower than ninth in the NFL in rushing attempts in Roman’s four seasons there and finished top-four in rushing yards in three of those four campaigns. Roman drew credit for his effective usage of Colin Kaepernick’s mobility and was one of the coordinators who best utilized the read option during its heyday in the early 2010s.

After Harbaugh’s ouster in San Francisco, Roman went on to be the Bills’ offensive coordinator for two seasons under Rex Ryan. The Bills finished as the NFL’s top rushing offense in each of those two seasons before Ryan was fired and Roman once again moved on.

John Harbaugh scooped up Roman after he left Buffalo and stashed him on the Ravens’ staff for a couple of seasons before promoting him to offensive coordinator. Impressively, the Ravens finished first in the NFL in rushing yards in each of Roman’s first two seasons, marking four consecutive campaigns for him as an offensive coordinator in which his running offense ranked as the best in the NFL.

Baltimore finished top-three in rushing yards in each of the next two seasons under Roman, but it’s worth noting that the 2021 NFL season saw Roman enjoy the best passing offense of his career. The Ravens ranked 13th in passing yards that season, easily the highest among Roman’s 10 years as an offensive coordinator.

The Ravens, however, parted with Roman after the 2022 NFL season to install a more vertically oriented offense under Todd Monken. That left Roman looking for work. He found it with the Chargers, and he will look to rekindle some of the magic he enjoyed with Jim Harbaugh in his early NFL days.

BENDER: What Jim Harbaugh hire means for Justin Herbert, Chiefs rivalry and more

What Greg Roman’s hiring means for Justin Herbert, Chargers offense

Roman, 51, has a strong résumé, but many have wondered whether he is the right fit for the Chargers. While Roman’s rushing offenses have been consistently strong throughout his career, his passing offenses have not been.

In nine of Roman’s 10 years as an offensive coordinator, his offenses ranked bottom-five in passing attempts. That includes three consecutive seasons — his last with the Bills and first two with the Ravens — during which his teams ranked dead last in passing attempts.

Roman’s inclination toward the running game may lead him to make the Chargers a run-heavy team. However, Los Angeles is not built to be that, as they ranked sixth in passing play percentage league-wide last season (61.03) in 2023 while their average of 3.8 yards per carry ranked just 27th.

Perhaps Roman can coach up what was a porous Chargers offensive line into a group of more dominant run blockers. That said, Los Angeles may need to invest significant resources into its running game to make that happen. So it may take time for that plan to come together.

A stronger running game would certainly be a net positive for Justin Herbert, but it could also take him some time to adjust to that type of ground-dominant offense. The Chargers ranked in the top five in the NFL in passing attempts in each of his first four seasons to date; it remains to be seen how he will adjust to a decrease in volume and whether that will impact his consistency.

Add in that the Chargers already have a well-built passing game with strong receivers like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer on the roster and it might be smart for Roman to let Los Angeles’ offense play to its strengths until the run game is rebuilt.

MORE: How Brock Purdy proved Cam Newton’s ‘game manager’ take wrong during Super Bowl run

Greg Roman stats

Below is a full breakdown of how each of Roman’s offenses ranked in rushing attempts, rushing yards, passing attempts and passing yards. 

Year Team Rushing attempts Rushing yards Passing attempts Passing yards
2011 49ers 3rd 4th 31st 29th
2012 49ers 7th 4th 31st 23rd
2013 49ers 3rd 3rd 32nd 30th
2014 49ers 9th 4th 29th 30th
2015 Bills 2nd 1st 31st 28th
2016 Bills 2nd 1st 32nd 30th
2019 Ravens 1st 1st 32nd 27th
2020 Ravens 1st 1st 32nd 32nd
2021 Ravens 3rd 3rd 9th 13th
2022 Ravens 7th 2nd 28th 28th

MORE: Download a printable Super Bowl 58 squares grid

Who is Jesse Minter?

Minter, 40, is joining Harbaugh after spending two seasons with him at Michigan. He led the Wolverines to a top ranking in total defense for the 2023 season — they allowed an FBS-low 247 yards per game — and played a major role in Michigan’s path to a national championship win.

Minter’s defense was at its best in the 34-13 national championship win over Washington. It got plenty of pressure on Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and created a key turnover, an interception, to start the second half. Minter also had his defense play well against Nick Saban’s Alabama squad, so he deserves credit for all that he did in the team’s run to a national championship.

Unlike Roman, Minter doesn’t have previous coordinator experience at the NFL level. However, he was on — you guessed it — John Harbaugh’s staff with the Ravens from 2017 to 2020, during which time he climbed the ranks from an assistant coach title to the team’s defensive backs coach.

Minter is a well-taught pupil and could emerge as one of the NFL’s next wave of quality defensive minds who are countering the NFL’s offensive coaching revolution. If he can get solid, consistent performance out of Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack and Derwin James — while ensuring all are healthy, of course — he could emerge as a hot head coaching candidate in the coming years.

Either way, Minter has the pedigree needed to succeed as an NFL defensive coordinator. And if he’s anything like Mike Macdonald, the now-Seahawks coach who worked under both Harbaugh brothers at Michigan and with the Ravens, that would provide a much-needed boost to an underperforming Chargers stop unit.

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