1. Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts
Arians always wanted the opportunity to become an NFL head coach — just not in this fashion. He was thrust into the position when Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in late September. Arians has since led the Colts to a 9-5 record and likely playoff berth, a remarkable achievement considering Indianapolis was the NFL’s worst team in 2011. Arians also has maintained involvement as offensive coordinator while helping to develop potential NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Andrew Luck at quarterback. The Colts are hoping that Pagano can return to the sideline before the season ends. But even if Arian reverts to an assistant role, he has shown enough in the face of difficult circumstances to deserve consideration as an NFL head coach elsewhere in 2013. 2. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III didn’t get so good so fast on his own. Shanahan and his son Kyle (Washington’s offensive coordinator) deserve credit for revamping their West Coast-style system to showcase Griffin’s athletic skills as a run/pass threat. Shanahan also kept the Redskins together following a foot-in-mouth moment where it looked like he was declaring the season over after the team slumped to 3-6. Washington has won five straight games since then and controls its own playoff destiny in the NFC East even with a defense that has suffered major injuries. The “Mastermind” is again living up to his nickname. - Alex Marvez
(AP Photos: AJ Mast/Bill Haber) Courtesy of FOXSports.comThe opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.