I know you don’t want to hear this Baltimore, but if the Ravens are going to succeed in 2009 season they should borrow the formula that their AFC North rivals in Pittsburgh have been brewing for their success this season.
Now don’t stop reading Ravens fans.
I know you think you don’t want to be anything like the dirty playing, arrogant Steelers, but just hear me out with this one. I want nothing but a Super Bowl Championship for the Ravens in ’09, and like it or not, the Ravens and Steelers are very similar teams.
The Head Coach
At the end of a very disappointing 5-11 2007 season the Ravens made a very big move and fired their head coach of eight years, Brian Billick. They hired a 46 year old defensive backs coach from Philadelphia named John Harbaugh. Harbaugh led the Ravens to an 11-5 season and won two playoff games with the Ravens, their first win in post season since 2001.
After the 2006 season the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach of 14 years, Bill Cowher, stepped down. The Steelers hired Mike Tomlin, the defensive coordinator from Minnesota. In his first season Tomlin went 10-6, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Jacksonville Jaguars. 2007 was his second season and the Steelers finished 12-4 and have already won the AFC Championship.
If John Harbaugh is anything like Mike Tomlin, the Ravens have a very bright future ahead of them.
In 2004 the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger in the first round, the 11th pick overall. Roethlisberger won one playoff game as a rookie, but lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship. In his next season Roethlisberger led the Steelers to the Super Bowl XL and brought the Lombardi trophy back to Pittsburgh.
With the 18th overall pick in the 2008 draft the Ravens selected a quarterback out of Delaware, Joe Flacco. Flacco started the entire season, unlike Roethlisberger who started 13 games, and became the first rookie to win two playoff games, but lost to the Steelers in the AFC Championship.
If Joe Flacco has a second season like Roethlisberger did, the Ravens have a bright future ahead of them.
By now you should see this comparison coming from a mile away. Defense wins championships, and in the Steelers and Ravens cases their Super Bowl championships have come at the hand of a top rated defense. The Steelers bring that into Tampa Bay this Sunday, they brought it to Super Bowl XL in 2005, and the Ravens brought it to Super Bowl XXXV in 2000.
This season the Steelers had the top ranked defense in the NFL, with defensive player of the year James Harrison. The Ravens were right behind them led by 13 year veteran linebacker Ray Lewis and their safety and defensive player of the year snub Ed Reed.
Defense won’t be a problem for the Ravens.
So we aren’t that different are we? Despite being bitter rivals, the Ravens and Steelers have quite a few similiarities in their formula for success. We don’t want to do too much like the Steelers (we all know that), but following this lead wouldn’t be a bad thing.