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It is often interesting to look at how history can help inform the present and future. This is true in sports and in life. While history doesn’t always repeat itself, often it is learning from the past that helps prevent mistakes or prepare for success.
In a lot of ways, that is the definition of analytics.
With the Cleveland Browns setting their sights on a Super Bowl appearance and victory, today we look back at the last ten Super Bowl champions at what their path was like that led them to their title. In particular, we will take a look at their record in the three previous seasons, was there any coaching changes during that time and who were their quarterbacks in those seasons.
Did most teams slowly climb up the standings? Was continuity at head coach and quarterback needed?
2011 New York Giants
(Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)
2008 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Tom Coughlin Quarterback: Eli Manning 2009 Record: 8 - 8 Head coach: Coughlin Quarterback: Manning 2010 Record: 10 - 6 Head coach: Coughlin Quarterback: Manning
2012 Baltimore Ravens
(Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)
2009 Record: 9 - 7 Head coach: John Harbaugh Quarterback: Joe Flacco 2010 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Harbaugh Quarterback: Flacco 2011 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Harbaugh Quarterback: Flacco
2013 Seattle Seahawks
(Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)
2010 Record: 7 - 9 Head coach: Pete Carroll Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck 2011 Record: 7 - 9 Head coach: Carroll Quarterback: Tarvaris Jackson 2012 Record: 11 - 5 Head coach: Carroll Quarterback: Russell Wilson
2014 New England Patriots
(Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)
2011 Record: 13 - 3 Head coach: Bill Belichick Quarterback: Tom Brady 2012 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Belichick Quarterback: Brady 2013 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Belichick Quarterback: Brady
2015 Denver Broncos
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
2012 Record: 13 - 3 Head coach: John Fox Quarterback: Peyton Manning 2013 Record: 13 - 3 Head coach: Fox Quarterback: Manning 2014 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Fox Quarterback: Manning *Coaching change to Gary Kubiak in 2015*
2016 New England Patriots
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
2013 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Belichick Quarterback: Brady 2014 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Belichick Quarterback: Brady 2015 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Belichick Quarterback: Brady
2017 Philadelphia Eagles
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
2014 Record: 10 - 6 Head coach: Chip Kelly Quarterback: Mark Sanchez 2015 Record: 7 - 9 Head coach: Chip Kelly (Fired with one game remaining) Quarterback: Sam Bradford 2016 Record: 7 - 9 Head coach: Doug Pederson Quarterback: Carson Wentz
2018 New England Patriots
(David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
2015 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Belichick Quarterback: Brady 2016 Record: 14 - 2 Head coach: Belichick Quarterback: Brady 2017 Record: 13 - 3 Head coach: Belichick Quarterback: Brady
2019 Kansas City Chiefs
(Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)
2016 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Andy Reid Quarterback: Alex Smith 2017 Record: 10 - 6 Head coach: Reid Quarterback: Smith 2018 Record: 12 - 4 Head coach: Reid Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes
2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
2017 Record: 5 - 11 Head coach: Dirk Koetter Quarterback: Jameis Winston 2018 Record: 5 - 11 Head coach: Koetter Quarterback: Winston 2019 Record: 7 - 9 Head coach: Bruce Arians Quarterback: Winston *Tom Brady took over as QB in 2020*
What can the Browns learn?
(Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)
Before we take a look at what the Browns past three years have looked like, what can we see from the above 10 teams? Five times a team had the same head coach and quarterback for the three seasons prior and for their Super Bowl. The Patriots obviously dominate that group with their three titles during this time frame. The Broncos had the same coach and QB the three years prior to their championship but hired Kubiak to coach the year they won the title. Only the Broncos, Eagles and Bucs changed coaching during the four-year time frame studied for the last ten Super Bowl champions. The Seahawks, Eagles, Chiefs and Bucs changed quarterbacks in the years prior to or year of their Super Bowl title. Three teams, the Seahawks, Eagles and Bucs, had two losing seasons in the three years prior to their championship year. Not surprisingly, all three of those teams changed quarterbacks during that time and two out of the three changed coaches. So what about the Browns the last three seasons?
2021 Cleveland Browns (assumed Super Bowl champions)
(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
2018 Record: 7 - 8 - 1 Head coach: Hue Jackson (fired), Gregg Williams (interim) Quarterback: Baker Mayfield 2019 Record: 6 - 10 Head coach: Freddie Kitchens Quarterback: Mayfield 2020 Record: 11 - 5 Head coach: Kevin Stefanski Quarterback: Mayfield If the Browns are to win the Super Bowl this season, they will be the first team with more than two coaches in the three-year span prior to their title. The Browns would also join the Seahawks, Eagles and Bucs in having two losing seasons, of four, prior to winning the Super Bowl. While most teams had stability at head coach and quarterback, if the Browns win the championship this year it will be unique. The Browns stability comes from their quarterback who has persevered despite instability all around him. It is good news for Browns fans that recent teams have struggled shortly before winning their title. It is good news for Browns fans that recent teams have had some turnover before winning their title. History isn't certain to repeat itself but history does give hope that this Browns team's recent history won't be a complete outlier if/when they win the Super Bowl.