The mantra became popular during the San Francisco 49ers meteoric rise to prominence in 2011-2013. Then former Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh would shout “Who’s got it better than us?!” when breaking team huddles to which his players would respond “Nobody!”
We later learned that this mantra was a staple of the Harbaugh family brought to the forefront by father Jack and passed on to sons John and Jim, as well as daughter Joanie Harbaugh.
We know that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh defeated brother Jim in the Super Bowl 47 to give the Baltimore Ravens their second Vince Lombardi Trophy. Jim would have just two more seasons in the NFL ranks before departing for the head coaching gig at Michigan (his alma mater) while John would continue to lead the Ravens to winning seasons in the NFL.
For some reason this mantra popped into my mind as the Ravens head home for roughly six weeks prior to the start of 2019 training camp on July 25. I started to reflect on who has had it better than us since the return of football to Baltimore in 1996.The list of fanbases that do is not a long one.
The Ravens have treated the crowd to a 67-24 home record since the 2008 season, good for third in the NFL. Image Credit: Stadiums
The 70,000-plus fans that flood the downtown area around M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights is known as the #RavensFlock. The Flock expands beyond M&T Bank Stadium, gathering around their television sets to see whether or not the their weekend or work weeks will get off to a good start.
So who’s got it better than us? Not too many NFL fanbases. It’s important to look at who’s HAD it better than us over the last few years. Since the Ravens joined the NFL in 1996, the team is 200-167 in the regular season and 15-9 in the playoffs. That’s good for a 215-176 franchise record (or a .549 winning percentage).
It gets even better since 2003 as the Ravens are 157-117 overall which ranks them seventh in the NFL since that season. Their 10 playoff wins land them in a tie for sixth. Half the teams in the league haven’t even played in 10 playoff games since 2003. Yikes!
Over the years, we have had the pleasure of watching Hall Of Fame talent in Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed. Ogden and Lewis are already enshrined in Canton, Ohio, and Reed will be inducted in August. We have also had the fortune to see potential future HOF players such as Terrell Suggs, Marshal Yanda, and Haloti Ngata don the purple and black over the years.
The team had the most dominant defense in the history of the NFL in the 2000 group that led the Ravens to their first ever Super Bowl win. This set the table for the Ravens reputation of a smash-mouth, top-tier defense we have come to know and love over the years. From that year forward, the defense has ranked outside of the top 10 in total defense just four times.The Ravens have long prided themselves on having a fantastic running game. Image Credit: Keith Allison
While the Ravens have often struggled for an offensive identity, it hasn’t fazed their ability to compete. They have often been predicated upon a strong ability to run the ball led by Jamal Lewis in the early half of the 2000’s followed by the likes of Willis McGahee, LeRon McClain, and Ray Rice in the latter half with Rice carrying the torch into the early 2010’s.
The quarterback position had long been the cause of the offensive futuitlity over the years before the Ravens drafted Joe Flacco in the 2008 NFL Draft. All he did was help guide the team to seven straight non losing seasons in his first seven years.
He also managed to win a playoff game in every season in which the Ravens made the playoffs. And let’s not forget his crowning achievement: an 11-touchdown postseason masterpiece without any interceptions in 2012 that led the Ravens to their second ever Super Bowl victory.
The years since that run haven’t been as fruitful for the Ravens but they’ve been far from pitiful. From 2013 through last season the Ravens are 50-46 in the regular season and 1-2 in the playoffs. But, they have held control of their destiny in every season with four games remaining on the schedule. There’s a lot of blame to go around for the mediocrity.
But the past six years haven’t been terrible. That record ranks the Ravens 15th in the NFL over that time frame. 12 other teams have played in the same or a fewer number of playoff games in that time frame. The Ravens have fallen off their top tier perch but are hardly bottom feeders.The Ravens organizational stability over the years has been key in continuing their winning ways. Image Credit: Baltimore Sun
Look at the organizational stability the Ravens have been able to achieve. Ozzie Newsome was the only General Manager the team ever knew until long time assistant GM Eric DeCosta took the reigns this past spring. They have had just three coaches in team history in Ted Marchibroda, Brian Billick, and now Harbaugh.
Look at the bottom feeding teams since 2003. Cleveland, last in wins since 2003, have had seven full time head coaches and eight GM’S. Oakland is second to last in wins. They’ve had 10 head coaches. Detroit rounds out the bottom three with six different coaches. Continuity matters especially when the formula is producing consistent winners.
To wrap up the look back, the Ravens have had playoff seasons in seven of the last 11 seasons. Consider this, the Lions have been to the playoffs seven times since 1994! The Tennessee Titans have just two playoff appearances since that season while the Bills and Raiders have one playoff appearance apiece.Good seasons from Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and Earl Thomas will be key for the Ravens to repeat as AFC North Champions. Image Credit: NFL Live
So what about the future of the Ravens since it’s pretty obvious we’ve had it pretty good so far?
The immediate future of the Ravens will be heavily dependent upon their new “franchise quarterback” Lamar Jackson. Whether you like Jackson as the long term future (most of you) or dislike him (me), he brings an added level of excitement to a team that has forever lacked it on the offensive side of the ball, especially since Rice. Add in two rookie wide receivers in the first three draft picks, and the gauge seems to be moving the right way on offense.
The Ravens have a defense that might boast the best secondary in the NFL. They added new pieces on offense that could be staples here for years to come. While some of the household names are gone, the Ravens are hoping new ones can emerge in cornerback Marlon Humphrey, linebacker Patrick “Peanut” Onwuasor, and free safety Earl Thomas.
They also have the greatest kicker in the history of the NFL in Justin Tucker. Maybe that was a little bias, but seriously he might be.
So who’s got it better than us? Some teams might. But I think we’ve got it pretty damn good.
Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens