As I wrote in my 2012 NFL coaching rankings before the season, nearly every coach faces a different situation.
New coaches have to think about two things: What type of team did you acquire and how can you get it to the Super Bowl? As a rookie head coach taking over a new team, there is always going to be some loyalty to previous coaches and coordinators when you step in that door on the first day. Some veteran players aren't going to like your system. They're going to think you're not the man for the job. But the key is convincing them that your system is best for them, that you are consistent and that you can succeed under pressure in games. Because that's where you earn players' respect.
As a veteran coach starting another season with the same team, depending on how long you've been there, expectations are different -- and probably high. It's not good enough to win games in the regular season -- ownership is now looking for success in the postseason. And if you missed the playoffs last year and have a talented team, patience from the men who write the checks is probably wearing thin. You need to win now.
Different head coaches have different expectations going into the season, which can make it tough to evaluate who is doing a good job and who could be doing better. So as we examine the coaches I believe have had the best start to 2012, we have to keep that context in mind. We're not necessarily looking for the best record. We're looking to see which coaches best measure up to their particular set of expectations.
That said, here are the five best coaching jobs so far in 2012:
Chuck Pagano and Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts
This has turned into one of the truly great stories in football, and I couldn't be happier for the Colts organization. The coaching fraternity is a brotherhood, and Pagano is fighting something much bigger than football off the field. That speech he gave in the locker room on Sunday was truly special. But Pagano doesn't make this list because of his courage; he makes it because the product on the field has gotten better, and fast. With the help of Arians, Pagano has done a great job with this football team since day one.