Bruce Arians of Indianapolis Colts deserves to be coach of year

This week, Chuck Pagano returns to relieve the NFL's coach of the year.

Bruce Arians. Should be anyway.

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There are other deserving candidates. Pagano himself. But what he did in coming back from leukemia is more about fortitude and character than X's and O's.

Leslie Frazier. Then again, the Minnesota Vikings coach does have the comeback player and the rightful MVP.

Pete Carroll just crushed the San Francisco 49ers. The Seattle Seahawks have won its last three games by an average of 40 points. And he's learning to work with a salary cap.

Still, it pales in comparison to the year Arians had with the Indianapolis Colts.

It began last January when the Pittsburgh Steelers unexpectedly announced the retirement of their offensive coordinator.

Within a week, Arians unretired to work for the Colts: a dispirited, two-win team, about to embark on a very ambitious project.

Of all the quarterbacking prodigies, Andrew Luck would be asked to do the most and would make the most mistakes.

Then Pagano took to his medical leave.

It wasn't life and death for Arians. But, truth be told, these were less than ideal circumstances.

The interim designation guarantees no succcess. Especially when you're already below .500.

But here it is, a game to go and Bruce Arians has the Colts in the playoffs. The guy who was done as an OC in Pittsburgh is 9-3 as a head coach. Despite 18 picks, Andrew Luck is shattering the rookie record for passing yards.

And the Steelers? No playoffs for them. Seven wins. Down from 12 last season. The offense went from 12th to 19th.

It's said that Ben Roethlisberger misses Bruce Arians.

It's not hard to see why.

Follow Mark Kriegel on Twitter @MarkKriegel