Harbaugh in “middle of the pack” of NFL head coaches?

August 23, 2012 | Luke Jones

Despite being the only head coach in the NFL to lead his team to the postseason and win at least one playoff game in each of the last four seasons, John Harbaugh apparently isn’t getting much love from at least one national pundit.

Ranking the 32 head coaches, NFL.com writer and regular WNST.net guest Gregg Rosenthal says Harbaugh ranks in the “middle of the pack” while listing 10 other coaches in higher categories in a tier-based ranking system. Rosenthal explains that the Ravens coach “inherited a great situation” while placing him in the same category as Mike Smith, Jeff Fisher, Gary Kubiak, Lovie Smith, Marvin Lewis, Pete Carroll, and Ken Whisenhunt.

What’s sure to ruffle the feathers of many Ravens fans is Rosenthal ranking former Ravens defensive coordinator and Jets head coach Rex Ryan as well as new Raiders head coach Dennis Allen — without a win as a head coach in his entire coaching career — ahead of Harbaugh. To make the discussion even more interesting, Rosenthal ranks brother Jim as one of three head coaches in the “top shelf” elite category after one season in which he led the 49ers to the NFC Championship game.

Though I’d hesitate to rank any head coach — including Harbaugh — without a Super Bowl victory in the elite category, to suggest he’s only a middle-of-the-pack head coach discredits what he’s been able to accomplish in his first four years. As for the proclamation that Harbaugh walked into an opportune position, I’ll remind him that while he did benefit from working under one of the best front offices in the league and having an elite defense, he was also inheriting a 5-11 team with a problematic locker room that contributed to the dismissal of the previous head coach and a broken offense that did not have a quarterback.

I rarely have a strong opinion about any rankings list where subjectivity reigns supreme, but to say Harbaugh only falls in the middle of the pack is a sizable slight.