Chuck Pagano was handed the keys to the most coveted prize of the offseason for any defensive coach. That being the Chicago Bears defense. The former Indianapolis Colts head coach knows the task in front of him. Not only is it to match what his predecessor was able to do this past year, but somehow find a way to exceed it if possible.
For the first time since accepting the job a couple of weeks ago, Pagano sat in front of the cameras to answer questions. He made sure before that to reiterate how grateful he was to the McCaskey family, Ryan Pace, and Matt Nagy for giving him the chance to get back on the sidelines after a year away from the game.
He considers himself extremely lucky to have this opportunity. So what can Bears fans expect from him. Here’s a run through the highlights of what he said at the press conference and how it can have an impact on not only next season but others to follow.
Chuck Pagano has no plans to change much of what the Bears defense is
It seems the veteran coach is a realist in terms of how he operates. He’s not dumb, understanding that the Bears already have something good going on defense. Why would he do something like try to change what already works? He has no plans to “jam square pegs in round holes.” His job is to take the players in place and have them play to their strengths. The less they have to think, the faster and better they will play.
In terms of scheme, it will remain a 3-4 alignment as expected with the players likely continuing the roles they already had under Vic Fangio with only minor tweaks from him and his staff.
Terminology will be a big obstacle for him in making the transition
With that said, there is something that Pagano reiterated several times that will be something to work through. That’s the defensive terminology. While the actual plays being run are the same for every team, not all of them are referred to in the same way. One team may call a play “nine” and another call it “Cover 3.”
What he wants to do is adapt himself to the system in place and learn the terminology himself rather than asking the players to do so. He feels it’s more efficient for one man to make that transition rather than an entire roster of players.
The rest of his defensive staff should be finish within the week
Thus far Pagano and the Bears have made two new additions to the defensive coaching staff. Ted Monachino arrives from Kansas State to run the outside linebackers, making this the third time he and Pagano have worked together with Baltimore and Indianapolis being the other places. Joining them is Deshea Townsend as defensive backs coach.
He was assistant defensive backs coach for the New York Giants last year. Pagano likes him because he has instant credibility having played in the league for a long time. He’s humble and understands the value of having to work hard to get his opportunities. Expectations are that the remainder of the staff will be filled within the next three or four days.
Doesn’t sound anxious to be a head coach again
One of the fears many people had when Pagano was hired was that he could just as easily be gone after a year if the defense does well. Despite the rough end in Indianapolis, he’s still widely respected around the league for his head coaching run there. He took his team to the playoffs three straight years and only had one losing record in six seasons.
However, that idea didn’t seem to register with Pagano. He even openly admitted that there were times with the Colts he wished he were a defensive coordinator again. His focus isn’t on being a head coach again. It’s all about making the Bears defense as successful as it can be and to help the team win.
Pagano wants this defense to be the best ever
There were no humble moments when it came to setting expectations. Pagano knows this defense is already great, so his job is to set the bar even higher. What is his goal? “To be the best there ever was.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that. He feels the pieces are in place to do something special with this defense and plans to do everything in his power to make it happen.
When asked to describe the type of defense he’ll run, the two words that resonated most were “wreak havoc.” He wants to create as much confusion for offenses as possible, whether it’s through disguising coverages or disguising blitzes. It’s clear his goal is to make the opponents as uncomfortable as possible.