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Jets vs. Bills: Greg Roman Combines Old and New School to His Offense

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman is in some ways a throwback. He likes to run the ball. The Bills were the only team in the league that called more runs than passes last year.

It may sound like Roman is a relic of the past playing 1950's era football, but there is more than meets the eye. I'm not sure I would say he is the best offensive coordinator in the league, but I do consider him one of the most intriguing. While you have some coaches who like to play smashmouth football because they are resistant to modern trends, Roman strikes me more as a guy who plays the way he does because he is seeking a strategic advantage.

In a league where teams are playing at least five defensive backs more than half the time, he is getting bigger. While the rest of the league is going small, the Bills like to go big. Roman's offense used six offensive linemen the fifth highest ratio of any team in the league last year.

This doesn't mean he runs some boring, conventional offense. The Bills also spent the third highest ratio of snaps in the league in the shotgun last year.

What Roman frequently does is taking old smashmouth concepts but add a creative twist to them.

I don't have enough time or digital ink to provide you with a full breakdown of the twists Roman puts on the Bills run game so I will share with you some variations he has on an old school run play, power.

There are five basic rules for blocking on power.

First, if a guy is in front of you, you try to drive him forward. For a visual representation, view the hi-tech GGN graphic below.

Second, if a guy is lined up off your shoulder on the backside of the run play, you block down on him.

The backside of a run play is the side away from where the run play is going. If a run is going right, the backside is left. If the play is going left, the backside is right. For a visual representation, view the hi-tech GGN graphic below.

For a visual representation of our second rule, view the hi-tech GGN graphic below.

Third, if you don't have anybody either across from you or on your shoulder, you can help out for a bit on the closest lineman on your backside then head to the second level (linebacker closest to you on the backside.) For a visual representation, view the hi-tech GGN graphic below.

There are two exceptions, and they make up our fourth and fifth rules.

Fourth, the fullback has to block the guy on the line farthest on the play side.

Fifth, the backside guard pulls and blocks the second level linebacker furthest on the play side.

Generally, this is how the play is run. It is an old school football play. Here you see the Bills run it with two tight ends and a fullback against the Jets last year. In today's spread 'em and shred 'em NFL, this is a novelty away from the goal line. This is going to get kind of complicated so for the sake of simplicity, I will do my best to identify players by numbers rather than names.

This is essentially how the play is presumably set up to be blocked at the start. You have your two guys in orange, the fullback taking Calvin Pace (97) at the end of the line  and the left guard who will pull to the right side and be responsible for Demario Davis (56). Now in this case Leonard Williams (92) gets double teamed. Marcus Gilchrist (21) doesn't really need to be blocked . The tight end at the end of the line takes David Harris (52) instead of the guard we initially assigned him. The guard took Damon Harrison (94) because the center initially assigned to Harrison helped double Williiams..

This is old school stuff, but the Bills also run this play out of more modern formations. Here is the run from a shotgun three receiver set. It's the same play to the offense, but it's a very different look for the defense coming from a passing formation with a wide receiver part of the mix.

Again, this isn't blocked totally to script, but the Bills adjust on the fly. The receiver at the end of the line takes the fullback's guy at the end of the line. The fullback then takes the linebacker (49) who really belonged to the pulling guard, who can take linebacker number 53. I know this is a lot to digest, but it all works out. The Bills had to adjust because Ndamukong Suh (93) eats up two blockers so the pulling guard got to cover for somebody who was unable to block due to the chain reaction Suh caused.

Anyway, the point is Roman is running this old school play from a modern formation, but even then he will add some wrinkles.

On this one, the weakside guard will pull and take the playside guy at the end of the line instead of the playside linebacker. The fullback will take the playside linebacker instead of the playside guy at the end of the line.

Not much of a twist, right? Well watch the play unfold.

I tricked you. Tyrod Taylor fakes the handoff and keeps it. That's the real wrinkle. The guy at the end of the line on the backside (50) crashed too far so a read is built in for Taylor. If he hands it off, this is a play with old school blocking, but Roman takes advantage of his quarterback's ability to run.

Usually you lose a player on a run play because the quarterback doesn't have much of a use. He hands the ball off, and nobody on the defense has to account for him. With a running quarterback like Taylor, you can force the defense to eat up a defender. Somebody has to account for Taylor. You don't need to block that guy. Taylor essentially is blocking that guy. The defender is just standing watching him.

Take a look at that second play again where Suh got double teamed. Look at 50 on that one. That's a big reason the play still worked. 50 was accounting for Taylor so the Bills didn't need to block him. They could afford to lose a blocker on a double team. On this play, he wasn't so Taylor burned him. Building this in shows real creativity.

And Roman can take it to another level. There are two ways to run the ball. First is to load up with blockers. Second is to spread the field to take as many defenders away from the line of scrimmage as possible.

Here the Bills go to an empty backfield. 56 is about to follow LeSean McCoy who just split out in motion. The Bills are going to run this classic blocking scheme. With no fullback, right guard 79 slides into that role taking the guy at the end of the line. Once again, Taylor's ability to run allows Buffalo to gain an advantage with their creativity. Without a mobile quarterback, the most players you can split out wide is four on a run. A back has to be there to take a handoff from the quarterback. With Taylor, the Bills can go five wide and still call a run. Splitting that back out means an extra defender is taken away from the box to stop the run.

And again, this is just one concept the Bills run. There is a lot of meat left on the bone we haven't touched when it comes to this run game.

This is what has made Roman a nice fit as a coordinator in his last two jobs. The two guys he worked with, Jim Harbaugh and Rex Ryan, want somebody to bring old school smashmouth sensibilities to their offense. Roman does that, but he also comes with a modern creative twist.