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Roman: Chargers eye 'great running game' for Herbert

Scott Taetsch / Getty Images Sport / Getty

New Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Greg Roman is determined to help quarterback Justin Herbert improve, and his plan begins with establishing a prolific run game.

"Can you imagine Justin Herbert with a great running game? ... We don't know, but I can imagine what it might look like," Roman said Thursday, according to ESPN's Kris Rhim. "So that's kind of the vision."

He added, "I think in this league, you can really, really help dictate the defenses if you have a strong running attack. 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."

The 51-year-old joined Los Angeles earlier in February as part of new head coach Jim Harbaugh's staff. The Chargers ranked 24th in rushing yards in 2023, the team's 16th straight season outside the top 10 in that category. L.A.'s leading rushers - Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley - averaged fewer than 4 yards per carry this past season. They're set to hit free agency in 2024.

Los Angeles rosters one of the sport's most skilled quarterbacks in Herbert. The 2020 first-round pick threw for 69 touchdowns in his first two seasons, but he passed for 25 and 20 TDs in 2022 and 2023, respectively. The 25-year-old - who has yet to win a playoff game - missed four games last year due to a broken finger.

Roman previously helped quarterback Lamar Jackson earn an MVP award in 2019 while serving as the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator from 2019-22. Jackson shined in Roman's run-heavy scheme and led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes in 2019. He set the NFL single-season quarterback record with 1,206 rushing yards in that campaign as well.

Roman also served as San Francisco 49ers OC from 2011-14, helping Colin Kaepernick - a quarterback who was also a threat in the run game - achieve success. Herbert has never rushed for more than 302 yards in a season.

"It's going to be a little different," Roman said of the offensive scheme he'll run with the Chargers compared to his offenses in Baltimore and San Francisco. "You're going to see probably a multiple running game. You'll probably see the use of motions and shifting, and then you'll see a pretty diverse passing game."

He added: "We'll give it to anybody that can gain yards. And then will Justin run the ball? ... It'll probably be more as a scrambler. Will we have some of that other stuff in our back pocket? Remains to be seen."

The Chargers stole headlines after the regular season by hiring Harbaugh as head coach. Los Angeles went 5-12 in 2023. Under ex-OC Kellen Moore, the team ranked 21st in points scored and 18th in total yards.

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