How Can the Jacksonville Jaguars Become the Next Baltimore Ravens?

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistFebruary 8, 2013

Titles are won in pictures like this. It just may take awhile.
Titles are won in pictures like this. It just may take awhile.Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps no two teams in football are farther apart than the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens.

The Jaguars finished with the worst record in the NFL. The Ravens won the Super Bowl.

Outhouse, meet Penthouse.

So what can the Jaguars do to become the next Ravens?

The answer is that they can't.

The Jaguars aren't going to fix what has been broken overnight. They can't be the next Ravens, but they can be the next great franchise in the NFL.

All week, this series has focused on the mediocrity of the 2012 Ravens. Of course, that's only part of the story. While this edition of the Ravens was anything but the best team in football, the franchise has been one of the unquestioned best in the game for more than a decade.

This is what the Jaguars have to aim at.

Baltimore benefits from stable ownership and front office structure. They have a system and they work it well every year. From Ozzie Newsome on down, the Ravens have been one of the most consistently excellent teams in the league.

Since 1999, the Ravens have had just three losing seasons and made the playoffs nine times.

That should be the goal of every team in the league.

Only a few franchises reach that level of consistency. The Patriots, Steelers and Colts have similar records of excellence. In the NFC, you can add the Giants and Packers to that list.

Winning the Super Bowl in any given year is a long shot even for an elite team. The key is to make the playoffs so often that eventually the odds tilt in your favor.

The Ravens were better in 2011. They were better in 2010. They were better a half-dozen times than they were in 2012, but they won it all last season in part because of the institutional memory of making the playoffs and knowing what to do in the postseason.

It doesn't matter that the Ravens "weren't the best team" in 2012. They are one of the best franchises every single year. Elite talent in one calendar year doesn't matter as much as consistent excellence every single year.

The Jaguars aren't likely to rebound in 2013. It's going to take a year or two to find a franchise quarterback.

What Jags fans can hope for is that Shad Khan laid the first brick in the foundation of an elite team by hiring David Caldwell.

All the best franchises have elite owners who cast a vision of excellence and dedication for the team. If Khan can be that kind of top-level owner, the franchise can become elite.

There may not be any parades planned for February 2014 in Jacksonville, but through stable ownership and solid front office work, they may be able to take their place at the playoff table very soon.

Then, if they get there often enough, they may even win it all.