Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Where would Dungy, Gruden and Fox fit?
By Pat Yasinskas
We already discussed our Power Rankings of the NFL’s top 10 head coaches and I weighed in on where New Orleans’ Sean Payton and Atlanta’s Mike Smith fit on that list and why Tampa Bay’s Raheem Morris and Carolina’s Ron Rivera didn’t get any votes.
But let’s look again at our poll and let’s get hypothetical. I’m not particularly wowed by some of the coaches who made the list and Rex Ryan and Mike Shanahan pop to mind. I respect Philadelphia coach Andy Reid’s total body of work, but I’m not so sure he’s currently as good a coach as he once was.
Anyway, let’s just have some fun and say Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy were still coaching in the NFC South. For those who like to get real technical, let’s make it clear Dungy never coached in the NFC South. The division was created right after Dungy left the Bucs and was replaced by Gruden. Let's also remember Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, Indianapolis' Jim Caldwell and Chicago's Lovie Smith, who made the list, came from the Dungy tree.
I know time is very relative and our Power Rankings dealt only with current head coaches. But I’m thinking you could make a case that Gruden or Dungy, when they were at their best, might have come in ahead, or right around Payton. Just like Payton, Gruden and Dungy (with the Colts) have a Super Bowl win on their résumé.
Gruden and Dungy each are out of the league and in broadcasting, but I think you could make a case their coaching reputations have gotten better in the last couple years, while Shanahan’s has gotten worse.
So I’m asking you to be a little creative. Close your eyes and picture Gruden and Dungy at their best and imagine where they’d fit on the current list. Heck, for that matter, do the same with former Carolina coach John Fox and stay flexible on the parameters.
Yeah, Fox had a horrible last season with the Panthers and that’s why he’s now in Denver. It’s also why he didn’t get any votes in the Power Rankings. But be creative again and imagine where Fox would fit if this was, let’s just say the 2008 season, when his team was 12-4.
I think Gruden, Dungy and Fox -- at their best -- were better than at least some of the coaches on the list. So hit the comments section below or my mailbag in the upper-right corner of this page and let’s hear your thoughts on where Gruden, Dungy and Fox would fit hypothetically.