Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll should be the leading candidates for NFL Coach of the Year, NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi said Sunday on "First on the Field."
Arians filled in as interim coach for the Colts while Chuck Pagano went through leukemia treatment. The team was 9-3 in Pagano's absence and clinched a playoff spot after going 2-14 in 2011. The Seahawks are 10-5 and in the playoffs with a roster crafted entirely in Carroll's image.
"What Bruce has been able to do, which is keep the level of play high for the Indianapolis Colts, develop the offense like he did -- remarkable job," Lombardi said. "If you're a prospective general manager in the league and you can see what Bruce Arians did in his time there, you see him act as the head coach but behave like the offensive coordinator."
Lombardi said Arians will draw attention from the San Diego Chargers and other teams expected to have head-coaching openings.
"His work is on tape, and there's proof in terms of what he can do as a head coach," Lombardi said.
Lombardi is absolutely correct. Arians did all this while breaking in a rookie quarterback with an overhauled roster and rookies playing major roles at every offensive skill position. At the same time, the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense struggled in its first year without Arians as coordinator.
Arians should be named Coach of the Year, and there's no doubt the phone will be ringing.
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.