Bears hire former Colts HC Chuck Pagano as defensive coordinator

Yahoo Sports
Chuck Pagano has big shoes to fill in Chicago. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Chuck Pagano has big shoes to fill in Chicago. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

With Vic Fangio off to take over as the head coach of the Denver Broncos, the Chicago Bears announced Friday that former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano would be the team’s new defensive coordinator.

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What Chuck Pagano brings to the Bears

Pagano took a year off from coaching in 2018, but spent the previous six seasons with the Colts. Pagano accrued a 53-43 record with Indy, though most of his wins came during the first half of his tenure.

The Colts went 11-5 and made the playoffs during each of Pagano’s first three seasons in Indianapolis, winning the division twice and reaching as far as the AFC championship game in 2014. The Colorado native also gained fame through the team’s CHUCKSTRONG movement when he was forced to take a leave of absence in 2012 after he was diagnosed with leukemia.

Pagano only has three seasons of experience as defensive coordinator, and only one at the NFL level with the Baltimore Ravens. The secondary coach of John Harbaugh’s initial staff with the Ravens, Pagano was promoted to coordinator in 2011 and led a defense that ranked third in both points and yards allowed.

“We are excited to add Chuck to our staff as defensive coordinator,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said in a statement on the team’s website. “He has successful experience at many different levels in this league and he is a great teacher with an aggressive mentality that fits our style of football. 

Pagano takes over an elite Bears defense

The 58-year-old Pagano will walk into as ideal a situation as one can find as a defensive coordinator, tasked with figuring out what to do with a treasure trove of defensive playmakers.

Outside linebacker Khalil Mack, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson were all voted Pro Bowl starters this season, with linebackers Leonard Floyd, Danny Trevathan and rookie Roquan Smith also being named alternates. Every single one of those players is currently under contract for the 2019 season.

Together, those players combined to form the No. 1 defense in the NFL in points allowed per game, while also ranking second in yards allowed per play and first in turnovers.

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