The Bears’ defensive coordinator spot was arguably the most desirable assistant coaching job in football. On Friday, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy found their man in former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
After Vic Fangio left Chicago to become head coach of the Denver Broncos, Pace and Nagy considered three candidates. They included Pagano, former Bears secondary coach Ed Donatell, and former Jets head coach Todd Bowles.
Donatell, who is not under contract, could join Fangio as the defensive coordinator in Denver. Bowles was the Bears’ first choice for the gig, but he had taken Bruce Arians’s offer to be his DC.
Pagano led the Colts for six years, reaching the postseason in each of the first three. The closest he came to a Super Bowl appearance was in the 2014-15 season, when he and the Colts were smoked by New England, 45-7.
He was previously the defensive coordinator in Baltimore for one year in 2011, where he helped the Ravens finish third in the league in both points and yards allowed. Under Pagano’s leadership that season, Ravens outside linebacker Terrelle Suggs won defensive player of the year – something that is sure to entice a certain Bears star to buy into Pagano’s message.
Pagano runs a 3-4 defense, which was the Bears’ base scheme under Fangio as well. That being said, over 70 percent of Chicago’s defensive play calls under Fangio in 2018 featured the nickel package. In today’s NFL, this is fairly commonplace, and is a trend that is sure to continue under Pagano.
The 58-year-old will inherit three desireable aspects of being an NFL defensive coordinator: autonomy on his side of the ball, a team ready to contend for a title, and the most talented second phase in the league. The Bears will return at least nine of eleven starters on their league-leading defense from 2018.
Those starters include established stars like Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller, and Akiem Hicks, veteran leadership in Danny Trevathan, and a top-ten pick entering his second year in Roquan Smith.
Oh, and Khalil Mack. Did I mention Pagano will get to work with Khalil Mack?
Pagano will likely be introduced at a press conference on Monday, along with Pace and Nagy’s end-of-season remarks. Vic Fangio’s departure left a gaping hole in the Bears’ coaching staff, but they hope that Pagano is the right man to fill it.
Follow @jacksobleTLS on twitter
Photo Credit: Logan Bowles, USA TODAY Sports