Just win, baby.
Twice in his career, Jon Gruden has been given that directive as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He was considerably more successful the first time around.
Gruden never finished below .500 in his first go-around with the Raiders, but in making his return to the franchise last year, he led Oakland to a 4-12 record, tied for the worst record in the AFC.
Right after Gruden signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to move out of the Monday Night Football booth and back to the sidelines, many questioned whether his time away from coaching would put him behind the eight-ball. Given how the Raiders performed last season, it didn’t exactly silence that noise.
And yet, at least one analyst believes Gruden is still an above-average coach. NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison ranked the 32 NFL head coaches Monday, and Gruden came in at No. 15.
Here’s what Harrison had to say about Chucky:
“As [Gruden] shipped out star players and cut ties with front office execs he didn’t want in Oakland last year, the Raiders managed just four wins. That’s why ’19 should be the tell on what kind of coach he is going forward. New GM Mike Mayock helped Gruden begin to rebuild the roster after stockpiling picks, providing an infusion of talent that should at least make this team more competitive. Given the strength of the division-rival Chargers and Chiefs, simply leading Oakland to the playoffs should be a ringing endorsement for the coach.”
Indeed, if they make the playoffs this coming season, that’s an undeniable success for Gruden and the Raiders in their final season in Oakland, in which case he would surely ascend on next year’s coaching rankings. But, as Harrison suggests, it’s not going to be easy.
Raiders’ Jon Gruden ranked as 15th-best veteran head coach by NFL.com originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area