When I get off the plane in Providence, Rhode Island, I know what to expect from the Patriots as I head toward Gillette Stadium. The minute I hear country music at the Nashville Airport, I know what to expect from the Titans. The first sight of the remarkable bridges in the Steel City, I know what to expect from the Steelers. The moment I start seeing the purple lights at the top of M &T Stadium from I-95, I know what I can expect from the Ravens.
These are organizations that have such clear identities, teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars or the New York Jets must live in a constant state of envy as they have tried to discover their own distinctiveness and can’t get it right. I find that when we discuss the potential opportunity and success of NFL teams each season (and on the other hand, the limitations and failures), the conversation tends to be correlated to who is the quarterback, who are the Pro Bowl players, who were the recent top draft picks, and what picks are on the horizon. Of course, this all matters and has a significant impact on the ability to win in the NFL. You can go as far as your QB can take you and star players define game planning.