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Where does Jon Gruden rank among NFL head coaches?

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Raiders’ 11-21 record since his return doesn’t help Gruden’s cause

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Jon Gruden
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

CBS Sports named the top 10 NFL head coaches and Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden didn’t make the cut.

It’s no surprise Gruden didn’t get named. NFL coaching is extremely what-have-you-done-lately? work. In the two seasons since he returned to the sidelines after 10 years away, Gruden’s record is 11-21. Clearly, that type of record is not going to get anyone named on a top-10 list.

But were does Gruden, whose 10-year, $100 million contract is the biggest among NFL coaches, currently rank in the NFL coaching sphere? I’d say somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Let’s break it down:

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
Bill Belichick
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Elite coaches:
Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, Pete Carroll, Sean Payton, John Harbaugh.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Mike Tomlin
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

High-level coaches:
Kyle Shanahan, Mike Tomlin, Doug Pederson.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
Frank Reich
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Above average:
Sean McVay, Mike Zimmer, Bill O’Brien (bad GM, good coach), Frank Reich.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders
Mike Vrabel, Jon Gruden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Very solid coaches:
Jon Gruden, Sean McDermott, Ron Rivera, Mike Vrabel, Matt Nagy.

So, that puts Gruden in the 13-17 range. I think that’s fair.

Gruden is a quality coach and he belongs in the league. But for him to climb up the ranks, he has to win. It’s the only way a head coach is judged. You can be a great Xs and Os guy, you can be a great motivator and you can be a great leader, but none of that matters unless you win consistently in the NFL.

That’s why most owners have short leashes on head coaches. It’s all about winning.

Gruden has rebuilt his roster and the Raiders are primed to win. Perhaps next year we’ll revisit top 10 coaching lists and see Gruden’s name on them.