UPDATE: News just broke that the Bears will be interview Pagano today, more on that in a bit.
With Vic Fangio’s promotion officially official, the Chicago Bears are now in search of a new defensive coordinator. An ideal candidate is someone who can be the de facto head coach for a defense featuring three first-team All-Pros, four Pro Bowl starters, four other Pro Bowl alternates, and nine projected returning starters under contract for 2019. Following Fangio isn’t an easy task, but someone has to do it.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at candidates who are (and could be) on the Bears’ radar leading up to the announcement of a new defensive coordinator.
Name, Current Team, Position
Chuck Pagano, Free Agent (Most recently: Indianapolis Colts), Head Coach
- Indianapolis Colts (Head Coach, 2012-17)
- Baltimore Ravens (Defensive Coordinator, 2011; Secondary Coach 2008-10)
- University of North Carolina (Defensive Coordinator, 2007)
- Oakland Raiders (Defensive Backs Coach 2005-06)
- Cleveland Browns (Secondary Coach, 2001-04)
- University of Miami, Fla. (Defensive Backs/Special Teams, 1995-2000; Graduate Assistant 1986)
- East Carolina (Defensive Backs/Linebackers (1992-94; Defensive Backs, 1989)
- UNLV (Defensive Coordinator, 1991; Defensive Backs 1990)
- Boise State (Linebackers Coach, 1987-88)
- Southern Cal (Graduate Assistant, 1984-85)
- John Harbaugh (2008-11)
- Butch Davis (1995-2000, 2001-04, 2007)
- Art Shell (2006)
- Norv Turner (2005)
- Jimmy Johnson (1986)
Hey, It Might Work…
The Bears are reportedly interested in interviewing Pagano … and with good reason. Pagano is a seasoned defensive coach with head-coaching experience. More than that, Pagano has experience on multiple levels of the defense having worked with linebackers and defensive backs. He even has time as a college coach. It’s as if Pagano has seen a little bit of everything in football, which could work in his favor. And even though he wouldn’t provide the type of continuity an in-house candidate brings to the table, Pagano’s experience as a leader would allow Head Coach Matt Nagy to continue keeping his focus on rebuilding the offense while not needing to worry about what’s happening on the defensive side of the ball. That would certainly be reassuring.
OK, Maybe He’s Not The One…
Pagano isn’t going to come without a fight from other teams interested in his services. The Panthers, Browns, and Cardinals are among the teams who have either interviewed or have reached out to Pagano – who already had head-coaching interviews with the Broncos and Packers before settling into a position where teams want him as a defensive coordinator. It figures to be a hotly contested race to secure Pagano’s services for the 2019 season and he’ll have his choice of the litter.
In The End …
If Nagy is looking for a de facto head coach in charge of running the defense, Pagano is an ideal candidate. Because while his head-coaching experience with the Colts fell short of lofty expectations, Pagano’s defensive chops are not to be questioned. And while he’s not Vic Fangio, he worked along side Fangio in 2008 and 2009 when the two were assistants working for John Harbaugh’s Ravens. That counts for something, right? Pair Pagano’s experience with the upside of the defenders Fangio left behind and it could make for the continuation of a good thing that is happening on that side of the ball.