While it helps that the Ravens clearly have a very good head coach in John Harbaugh, it’s hard to imagine he will immediately be accepted as a better head coach than other SB winners including Sean Payton, Mike McCarthy, Mike Tomlin or even two time winner Tom Coughlin-none of whom have ever been part of a dynasty.
The Ravens have proven that front office stability goes a long way in establishing the greatness of a franchise, but even the Eddie DeBartolo-lead 49ers of the 80′s were never able to claim three titles in five years. (Of course, some would argue their three in six years would qualify as a dynasty. They can write their own columns.)
It’s a pretty simple concept. The Ravens have not set themselves up to become a dynasty by locking up Joe Flacco for six years, but they’ve given themselves a chance they wouldn’t have had they not. It seems like a ridiculous statement to make considering there was never going to be a chance the Ravens wouldn’t lock Flacco up, but you can only make the argument once the deal is done.
The Ravens would have still had a very good head coach, exceptional owner (Steve Bisciotti) and rock solid front office (lead by GM Ozzie Newsome) with or without Flacco locked up. But they had a very good head coach and excellent leadership in 2001 after they won their first title. The difference this time around is Flacco.
It would be easy (but not truthful) to say the 2000 Baltimore Ravens would have turned into a dynasty had they retained a quarterback of Flacco’s caliber. His arm is unquestionable, his decision making solid and he’s clearly still only coming into his prime as a signal caller. But much as the Ravens couldn’t fully prepare to have Jamal Lewis go down in Training Camp after capturing Super Bowl glory, this group can say no different. An injury to any significant party could drastically alter the ability to repeat or win another title at all in the next five years.
I like the Ravens chances of winning again during the six years Flacco is slated to be under contract (although the likelihood of him playing out the current deal is small). I think Freeman is right to point out that the Ravens have significant pieces in place to be the organization others around football will have to measure up to in coming years.
But that doesn’t make them on track to being a dynasty. This isn’t a four team minor league. This is the NFL.
As much as none of us will want to admit this, Prisco will probably end up being right.