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I knew where that idea was coming from. The Ravens are on quite a roll, having gone 44-20, won a playoff game every year and reached the AFC title game twice since John Harbaugh arrived four years ago. But they haven't made the Super Bowl, and good times only last so long.
It was a question that, I knew, would hit close to home at the Ravens' headquarters. When the team plucked Harbaugh from Eagles coach Andy Reid's staff in 2008, it held up the Philadelphia model as one to be admired.
The Eagles are consistent contenders under Reid, who is still on the job after 13 years, having experienced just two losing seasons. They're always a tough out, always in the hunt, yet they've only reached the Super Bowl once in those 13 years, and they didn't win.
Harbaugh came aboard with a mandate to recast the Ravens as something similar, perennial contenders, eliminating the inconsistency that marked Brian Billick's final years. But while Harbaugh has impressively accomplished that goal, the other half of the Philly model – playoff frustration – has tagged along.
When the guy asked if the Ravens might be the Eagles, here's what I said: I can't see the future. And I understand that years of playoff frustrations can have a withering effect on a franchise. But I don't see scars on the Ravens, even after New England. And they're doing a lot of things right – enough to get over the hump one day.
There's no reason to think they can't.
Their record in the draft ranks with the best in the league, suggesting a continual infusion of youth. Their general manager's track record speaks for itself. Their physical playing style is clearly articulated, as is their organizational philosophy. They aren't drama queens. They prefer continuity to "grass is greener" knee-jerk change.
Some fans don't like that they brought Cam Cameron back as offensive coordinator, but his offense ranked 10th in the league in rushing, 11th in time of possession and 12th in scoring this season, with a majority of its starters under 30. The organization decided it was smarter to tweak the unit, let it continue to evolve, rather than start over. It's the right call.
Sure, the specter of a Philly-style shortfall is undeniable. "I know it seems like for the Ravens right now (it's) always the bridesmaid and never a bride," Steelers safety Ryan Clark said last week.
But you have to step back and view the big picture. From where they were four years ago, the Ravens have sped up and pulled alongside the Steelers and Patriots in the AFC. They reside in the elite class now, with the requisite talent to continually contend and possibly go all the way.
So, offering no promises but plenty of promise, they just keep hammering away and believing their time could come, as it did once before.