You’ve heard the term before: the “Super Bowl window.” The concept that given a team’s current roster makeup, the organization has X number of years to win a Super Bowl before a number of pressures force a large-scale personnel retooling.
The demands of the modern-day salary cap combined with variables such as player retirements, injuries, and declining production all affect the makeup of each team’s roster and their particular window of opportunity.
Recently, the notion of a Super Bowl window has largely been put to bed as myth. While all coaches are urgent to win, most will dispel the notion that their team’s best chance to win a Super Bowl will peak in the next two years or that their team is going all in to win a championship in a given year. Notorious examples such as the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles “Dream Team” and even this past year’s Denver Broncos who paired expensive defensive free agent acquisitions with top-flight, yet aging, quarterback Peyton Manning serve as cautionary tales when it comes to “making a run for it.”
If ever there was a franchise that eschews the notion of a Super Bowl window, it is the Baltimore Ravens. The organization is financially disciplined, maintains a stable front office, is built through the draft, and rarely makes big splashes in free agency waters.
The Ravens themselves have criticized their own experiment to desperately hold a roster together following their 2000 Super Bowl victory. After the Ravens’ second championship two years ago, Ozzie Newsome made clear, “We will not repeat what we did in 2001. . . We are not going to restructure contracts . . . just to maintain this team to make another run.”
The front office consistently expresses their desire to build a team that is in the playoff hunt each year—“consistent winners” as Owner Steve Bisciotti has often termed it—rather than sacrificing the team’s future for a one-year chance at a title. The Ravens have repeatedly shown that if they can just “get to the dance” they can make noise and threaten for the Lombardi Trophy.
But here’s the reality: the Baltimore Ravens do have a Super Bowl window. And the reason is because the team is in possession of an asset never before held in Charm City: a franchise quarterback. When you have a proven winner in the prime of his career at the most important position in sports, you have a tremendous luxury. But with this luxury comes a half-life of sustained success.
At 30 years old, Joe Flacco likely has 3 to 4 more years left of his best football. Flacco will hopefully play well into his 30s and his extraordinary health record certainly suggests the plausibility of that hope. Whether you are a Flacco lover or hater, you have to admit that (1) Flacco flat out gets it done in the postseason, and (2) we Ravens fans remember the misery of floundering for years without a quality quarterback.
No. 5 is our best chance at getting that third ring.
Now that is not to say that the Ravens will fall off the map with Flacco’s retirement, but franchise quarterbacks are truly few and far between.
If as Ravens fans we are honest with ourselves, we’ll realize that we have already started coming to grips with this window. We’ve been treated to 2 championships in just over a decade. We finally have a quarterback who can consistently win. So after the most recent Super Bowl victory, the question lingers: can we get one more before Joe retires?
Hoping for two more titles just feels greedy.
But failing to get another ring would feel like a waste of a talented generation of players. Can we get one more?
The Ravens’ Super Bowl window does not imply that the organization needs to go all in and make ill-advised roster choices. But it does mean that the team needs to be sure not to let these years go to waste, particularly offensively. Flacco has an outstanding offensive line but he needs playmakers (especially if Torrey Smith walks in free agency) and this need will only become increasingly pressing over the next few years as our franchise quarterback ages.
So while the Ravens will never attempt to sacrifice future consistency for a momentary gamble for success, Ravens fans should nonetheless feel comfortable admitting that we do in fact have a Super Bowl window.
Embracing our unique window of opportunity will add both pressure and excitement to the next half-decade of Baltimore football.
So let’s take time to savor it.
After all, we’d much rather watch football through a window that is slowly closing than one that is firmly shut.