The NFL Coach of the Year race is a hotly contested one, and there are a number of deserving candidates to win the award in 2012.
But no one deserves it more than Bruce Arians of the Indianapolis Colts.
Not Pete Carroll who has turned the Seattle Seahawks into one of the most explosive offenses in the league, not to mention a legitimate Super Bowl candidate.
Not even Gary Kubiak who finally put all the pieces together and has the whole city of Houston thinking Super Bowl.
With all due respect to those great masterminds, Arians should become the 2012 NFL Coach of the Year.
There is no reason why the Colts should be in the playoffs, let alone with former offensive coordinator Arians leading the way.
When Indianapolis started training camp this summer, the man at the helm of the woefully mediocre team was Chuck Pagano.
His Colts had just finished 2-14 and, after drafting Andrew Luck at No. 1 overall, were not expected to contend in the AFC South this season.
There were 36 new players on the roster. This was a squad very much in rebuilding mode.
By all means, a disappointing start is a football tragedy.
But actual tragedy was about to hit Indianapolis.
On September 26, head coach Chuck Pagano was first diagnosed with leukemia. He would be out for the next three months, but no one expected him to return this season.
No one expected the Colts to return to prominence this season, and after disaster struck, the team would have a viable excuse if it faltered for another year.
But interim coach Bruce Arians wouldn’t let that happen.
Let that sink in.
The Indianapolis Colts are not a 10-win team talent-wise. They have a rookie quarterback at the helm with a rookie running back and major holes on defense. They’ve scored fewer overall points than their opponents but somehow are in the postseason.
For one moment, forget that Arians himself was new to the Colts as an offensive coordinator and thrust into the head-coaching job amidst the worst of circumstances. Because it would be nice to hand a guy an award for a feel-good story.
But this was more than a heartwarming tale.
This was the clockwork brilliance of an intelligent football mind.
If you remove the situation and just look at the stats, then you would realize that Arians has the numbers to back up his award.
No matter how heralded Luck was coming out of Stanford, he was still a rookie. It was Arians that molded him into a signal-caller that can thrive in the NFL. It was Arians that devised game plans to slow down opponents and get the ball to his few playmakers.
Arians shaped the worst team in the league a season ago into a playoff-bound squad with burgeoning aspirations this year.
And then you can add the feel-good material.
Arians came up with the idea of keeping the light on in Pagano’s office, and he made this season a brilliant “Chuckstrong” campaign.
He motivated his players in a such a way that allowed him to get the most out of them using a system that was a catalyst for win after win after win.
Isn’t that what a coach of the year is supposed to do?
It is hard to explain exactly how Arians did what he did, but the fact of the matter remains.
The Colts shouldn’t be in the playoffs and yet they are.
Arians wasn’t even meant to be the head coach and yet he is the front-runner for Coach of the Year.
The way he handled everything that went on with the organization and still managed to grind out victories is simply admirable.
The Colts should be a hot team for years to come and that is very much because of the man standing on the sidelines for Indy in 2012.
Bruce Arians deserves to win the Coach of the Year award this season outright.
It isn’t even close.