Even after a NFL franchise has a successful season, most experts look at the team moving forward in one of two ways:
1.) The window of success is open, or opening, and
2.) The window of success is closing
These two common terms refer to the potential roster shake up due to free agency, as well as the overall age of the lineup, as the team moves into the offseason and prepares for the following year. Let's look at some examples of this terminology in real life.
The 2015 Denver Broncos are the AFC representative in Super Bowl 50. The highest level of achievement for a team which is a part of the American Football Conference; however, looking at their roster you have to wonder if this might be the beginning of a stretch of mediocre play, rather than a consistent level of success.
Why would a team in Super Bowl 50 be considered on the "down swing" in terms of the future? Easy. In the NFL you need to have a solid quarterback, and Peyton Manning's future is anything but certain after the big game Sunday. Also, the Broncos will have some key free agents hitting the market, and teams will want the Super Bowl experience in their locker room. Throw in the fact the Kansas City Chiefs are breathing down their throats in the AFC West, and you have yourself some major question marks heading into 2016.
In other words, most would say the Broncos' window is closing.
As for a team who's window for success is open, you can go ahead and ask CBS football analyst, and former head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bill Cowher what he thinks about his former team's window of success.
Cowher says the Steelers were the one team no one wanted to play. Cites Toussaint's fumble. Ben many great years left. Window not closing.— Jason Mackey (@Mackey_PGH) February 1, 2016
While most will call Cowher a homer, and rightfully so, his thoughts on the 2016 Steelers are far from abnormal. When looking at the Steelers lineup next season, they have the potential to be one of the best offenses not only in franchise history, but in the NFL this past decade.
Ben Roethlisberger has proven he has plenty left in the tank, and combine his skills with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Heath Miller, Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams and you have yourself one tremendous offense next season.
The defensive side of the football is bound to improve too. Ryan Shazier, Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Mike Mitchell, Lawrence Timmons and Bud Dupree look to all take the next step and have the defense win games for the black and gold next season.
In other words, the Steelers window of success should be wide open in 2016.
A lot of factors can tie into the success a team faces in the coming year. Free agency, the NFL Draft, and most importantly, health. If the Steelers can stay healthy, there is no doubt they can make waves in 2016, but as was evident in 2015, that is one giant 'If'. As for most Steelers fans, they will agree with Coach Cowher on his outlook on the 2016 Steelers.