Chicago Bears aren’t sure yet what to make of Chuck Pagano replacing Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator. He certainly doesn’t have the same level of experience at the job. Pagano only spent one year in his NFL career running a defense. Fangio has been doing it since 1995. All people have to go on recently is Pagano’s run in Indianapolis as head coach. Those defenses weren’t all that impressive. So what should people make of him? Mark Carrier might know.
While he’s not quite football royalty in Chicago, most in-the-know Bears fans will instantly recognize the name. Carrier was a 1st round pick of the Bears in 1990 out of USC. It could be argued no defensive player in Bears history ever had a greater debut. Not only was the safety Defensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowler, but he also set the franchise record for interceptions in a season with 10.
This guy knows what great defensive play is supposed to look like. So why is he such an expert in regards to Pagano? PW Insider talked with him about his time as a secondary coach in Baltimore. Two years after he started there, the team hired Pagano to join him on the staff. It didn’t take long for the man to leave an impression.
Mark Carrier believes players will love and trust Pagano
Carrier was ecstatic when he heard about the news that the Bears had hired Pagano. They’d spent two years together in 2008 and 2009, during which the defense had a lot of success. Particularly on the back end. So what stands out about him the most?
“One, Chuck’s a good person. He’s a damn good football coach. And he’s a good leader. The Bears are lucky to have him.”
That seems to be the common theme from people who have spoken up about Pagano. The absolute pinnacle of football character. He cares deeply about his players and the people around him, always trying to make them better both on and off the field. Yet that doesn’t explain what he does from a pure football standpoint. Carrier helped there as well.
Carrier said Pagano’s focus as a coach is on technique, that he’s all about striving for perfection in practice.
“But one thing I love about Chuck — he doesn’t over-coach it either,” Carrier says. “You work at it, you try and perfect it in practice, and then you allow them to play on game day and you make adjustments.”
That stands out on tape of players that Pagano has coached. They tend to be highly disciplined in their fundamentals and don’t make a lot of mental errors during games. This is why teams he coached for in the past always saw an immediate improvement in their pass defenses. This carried over to his success, however brief, as a defensive coordinator in 2011. It bodes well for the Bears not only in 2019 but in the long-term as well.