The Ravens want to follow the success model of the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles instead of enduring the ebb and flow of the past few years.
The Ravens rebounded to 11-5 during the regular season this year after going 5-11 a year ago, including a franchise-record nine-game losing streak that ultimately cost Brian Billick his job. After finishing 6-10 in 2005, they set a franchise record with a 13-3 mark in 2006 before losing to the Colts in the playoffs.
This year, the Ravens won their first playoff games since January 2002.
"We want to be a player, we want to be an elite team, and, hopefully, this is the beginning of that," said Bisciotti before turning toward coach John Harbaugh at a Wednesday press conference at the Ravens’ training complex. "I don’t think many teams experienced the last four years from six wins to 13, down to five and then up to 11. So, we’ve got to smooth that out and, hopefully, this guy (points to Harbaugh) is going to help us do that."
Creating a consistent benchmark for success often coincides with stability and ability at head coach and quarterback.
Of course, the Patriots have traditionally had that element over the years with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, who was out for the season with a knee injury, the Colts with Tony Dungy, who recently retired, and Peyton Manning as well as Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia.
"It is virtually the only thing that you can look at and say that’s the constant," Bisciotti said. "They’ve got a long-term coach and a long-term quarterback, and that’s why they have a chance to get to the playoffs every year. So, yeah, I think that’s the position we’re going to be in."
Given the choice, Bisciotti wouldn’t trade the thrill of the playoffs, even with the sudden stop of the Ravens’ 23-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC title game, for the pain of a disastrous season like 2007.
"I wouldn’t change that terrible feeling of disappointment with the slow burn of disappointment of the other two years, last year and in 2005 when we went 6-10 and 5-11," Bisciotti said. "There’s no singular event that disappoints or exhilarates like winning or losing a playoff game. I said a couple of years ago, if you’re a successful organization, you’re going to set yourself up for this kind of disappointment."
It’s clear what the Ravens need to do to improve their standing in the NFL: Learn how to beat the Steelers.
Half of the Ravens’ six losses this year came against the AFC North champion Steelers, losing three times by a total of 16 points.
"It is the kind of team that we want to be," Bisciotti said of the Steelers. "With three contests ending in their favor, I would say they are a notch above us now. I’m thrilled that arguably one of the top three teams in the league is in our division. It’s something for us to shoot for. I’m glad we’re not the cream of our division.
"We didn’t win the championship, we didn’t win the division and we’re supposed to be pleased where we are. But our sights are focused on beating Pittsburgh. If you start there and climb that mountain, then we’re probably going to be pretty good."
Since taking over as majority owner from Art Modell prior to the 2004 season, Bisciotti’s teams have a combined record of 44-36 with a 2-2 postseason mark.
"I’m playing for pride, that’s it, and to make the fans happy and unified," Bisciotti said. "It’s very fulfilling to me. I know it goes with winning. The ultimate is to hand the fans a trophy, and I’m not satisfied until we hand the fans a trophy."
NOTE: Although the San Francisco 49ers have expressed interest in interviewing Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson for their offensive coordinator vacancy, nothing has been set up at this point.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.