The NFL finally is announcing their regular season awards tonight, the night before the super bowl, as part of the NFL Honors awards show (which airs at 9:00 ET tonight). The winners of the awards are already being announced, however, and Indianapolis Colts' interim head coach and current Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was named the NFL's coach of the year.
Facing circumstances unprecedented - the head coach being diagnosed with leukemia mid-season - Bruce Arians took over for his good friend Chuck Pagano. Arians had retired briefly last offseason after the Steelers got rid of him but once Pagano was hired as the next head coach in Indy, Arians was his first hire, as offensive coordinator. Pagano coached the Colts in their first three games, but during the bye week was diagnosed with leukemia. Arians took over for the team and in Pagano's absence held a young team facing adversity together and led the Colts to a 9-3 record, finishing 11-5 overall. Arians' leadership was nothing short of tremendous and his work with Andrew Luck and the young offense in bringing them along so quickly was remarkable as well.
Throughout it all, Arians did it with class - never once insisting that he was the head coach but rather just filling in for a good friend. He refused to take Pagano's office (but he did leave the light on in his absence), refused to take Pagano's dressing room. He always insisted that once Chuck Pagano returned, Arians would immediately hand over control of the head coaching duties - and that is exactly what he did.
Bruce Arians' remarkable job this season earned him a head coaching job this offseason as well, as he became the next head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
Arians is perhaps the most deserving of this award of any candidate for any award tonight. The voters got this one absolutely right. Arians racked up 36.5 of the total 50 points, and even more remarkable was that Chuck Pagano finished second in the voting with 5.5. [The Seahawks' Pete Carroll got 5 and the Vikings' Leslie Frazier got 3]
In a year unlike any other, Bruce Arians was as surprising a winner as any other ever. I mean, at the beginning of the year, NO ONE even thought about him getting a head coaching job the next year, much less win the NFL's coach of the year. It just shows what a lifelong coach can do with an opportunity, even through a very tough and trying situation. Thanks for filling in so incredibly, Coach Arians. And congrats on the award - you totally deserved it. Good luck in Arizona.
NOTE: Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III won the NFL's offensive rookie of the year award with 29 votes. The Colts' Andrew Luck came in second with 11 while the Seahawks' Russell Wilson got 10 votes. While Andrew Luck definitely should have won the award, RG3 winning it was no surprise and all three deserved the award, in all honesty.