The Chicago Bears new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano had his introductory press conference at Halas Hall on Thursday morning. After taking all of last season off, Pagano seemed eager to resume his coaching career in 2019, inheriting one of the most talented defenses in all of the NFL.
Pagano was the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts for six years. He finished with a regular season record of 53-43 and a postseason record of 3-3. He was the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens when they won the Super Bowl in 2012. He coached players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Pagano’s seen it all.
Overall, the Pagano hire was one that was well received by analysts, players, and fans. Here are some takeaways from Pagano’s first press conference as defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears.
With Vic Fangio becoming the head coach of the Denver Broncos, there was concern surrounding the Bears’ defense. Would there be a drop-off, would the team miss the best DC in the NFL? After hearing Pagano speak, those concerns should be put to rest, at least for now.
Pagano is going to keep a lot of what Vic Fangio did the same. The only thing that may change is some terminology. It’s also worth noting that Pagano also comes from a 3-4 background. The same type of defense the Bears ran under Fangio.
It’s clear that Pagano will put more on himself than he will on the players in terms of adjusting the defense. Whatever makes it simpler for the players is what Pagano is going to do.
“There’s going to be a lot of carryover.”
Pagano was asked to describe he defensive-style, his response was to “wreak havoc.” He was also asked about blitzing and if he would do it more. Pagano said the Bears would be calculated, which is a safe answer, but you can expect the Bears to be more aggressive in 2019.
Over the years, it was a bit frustrating at times to watch Fangio play a prevent-type defense when his team was up by 10 points or more. Pagano will not do that. He wants to go out there and control the tempo of the game. You can do just that by being the aggressor.
Pagano was a head coach before in the NFL and even interviewed for a few positions this offseason, but when asked about being interested possible head coaching jobs in the future, he shot it down.
“I’m not. I’ve done it. I’m motivated to just help coach Matt Nagy be successful. Help this organization be successful. Help these kids grow and develop. That’s my motivation is to be the best I can be for this organization, for the McCaskey family, for Coach Nagy and for these players and for these coaches and help develop these guys. That’s the only thing I want to do.”
If things go well, we can expect Pagano to be the Bears’ defensive coordinator for years to come.
One great season doesn’t mean a dominant defense will be successful in the future. Look at the difference between the 2017 and 2018 Jaguars’ defense. The NFL is a year-to-year league. Injuries happen all the time, which can change things in a hurry.
Still, Pagano has high expectations for the Bears’ talented unit.
“Our vision for this defense is to be the best,” Pagano said. “Can we be the best in the history of the game? The pieces are there, and they will continue to add pieces. Can we continue to be better than we were last year? Absolutely. It’s going to be very, very difficult and a huge challenge, but one we will be up for.”
Pagano also mentioned that he reached out to some of the players and they too think they can build on and be better than they were last season.
In his first year as the head coach of the Colts, Pagano had a scare with cancer. He told members of the media that he’s now six years cancer free and in the best shape of his life. He was also able to spend a lot of time with his family during his year off.
Pagano did remain close to the NFL though as a consultant for the officials. He either spent his Sundays during football season watching the red zone channel or in New York at what he called the “command center.”
It was a pretty average press conference on Thursday. Pagano is ready to go and said the coaching staff would be finalized in the next few days. Time will tell, but it appears the Bears not only hired the next best coach to be their defensive coordinator but the next best man as well.
Follow Nick on Twitter @PetroTLS