Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano is retiring, per Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic. There was a ton of speculation Pagano would be fired after seeing his defense regress steadily over the last two seasons, but the 60-year-old Pagano chose retirement instead.
Pagano was hired by the Bears to take over for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in 2019, and he has spent the last two seasons in Chicago. Pagano also served as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2012-2017, compiling a 53-43 record in six seasons.
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Pagano’s Retirement Could Lead Bears to Search for New DC In-House
Pagano’s coaching career began in 1984, when he started out working as a graduate assistant at USC. He stayed amongst the college ranks until 2001, when he entered the NFL as a secondary coach for the Cleveland Browns. He worked his way up, with stops as the Raiders defensive backs coach and the Ravens defensive coordinator, among others, before he landed at Indianapolis.
Per Fishbains’s report:
Chuck Pagano will retire, according to multiple league sources. The longtime defensive coach and former Colts head coach ran the Bears’ defense the past two seasons. It ranked in the top 10 both seasons by the Football Outsiders DVOA metric. Whether or not Matt Nagy will be the one to make that hire is still to be determined. It’s thought that he’s been involved in meetings at Halas Hall with ownership the past two days … Pagano has been a football coach since 1984 and he’s been in the NFL since 2001, when he was the Browns’ secondary coach. He was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator in 2011 before spending the next six seasons as the Colts’ head coach.
There is no word yet as to who might replace him as defensive coordinator, but the Bears have several intriguing candidates, both in-house in defensive line coach Jay Rodgers, and outside of Halas Hall, like Rams assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Barry, both of whom Fishbain lists as possible options to succeed Pagano.
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Bears Defense Regressed Significantly Under Pagano Over Last 2 Seasons
Under ex-DC Fangio, the Bears lived in the top 10 in nearly every defensive category, and they made their living off of turnovers and sacking the quarterback. Chicago had 42 sacks in 2017 and 50 sacks in 2018, but under Pagano, they had 32 in 2019 and 35 this season.
The Bears had a total of 20 interceptions in the two years combined since Pagano took over as DC, which is staggering when you consider that the season prior to his arrival in 2018, they had 27 picks as a team.
Still, the now-retired head coach has earned the respect of his players and colleagues, and he will be missed. Upon hearing the news of Pagano’s retirement, his former punter for the Colts, Pat McAfee Tweeted his support for his former coach, calling him an “EPIC human.”
An absolute LEGEND hanging up the whistle.. The NFL will miss him.
I hope he decides to get into the media world. EPIC human. https://t.co/DVEjcyRMSA
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 13, 2021