Chicago Bears: Chuck Pagano a perfect fit for Chicago Bears
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Don’t look at Chuck Pagano’s defenses in Indianapolis when analyzing the Chicago Bears’ new defensive coordinator.
Chuck Pagano was hired as the new defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears on Friday night. The move was met largely with positivity but there were some critics that spent time analyzing the Indianapolis Colts’ statistics when Pagano was the head coach and used those underwhelming numbers to criticize the hire.
The numbers are underwhelming, there is truth there. When you look at the Colts DVOA, which for those who don’t look beyond traditional statistics is Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. It compares the defense’s efficiency compared to the other defenses in the league that year.
It gives a great window into how a defense has played in multiple facets compared to the rest of the team’s that year.
In Pagano’s six seasons as head coach of the Colts, he had what would be classified as three average defenses and three bad defenses. In Pagano’s six seasons, he only had 4 different defensive players ever make a Pro Bowl. At several other positions, Pagano’s defense had players that were far below league averages.
In short, the Colts’ defenses in Pagano’s years were nearly devoid of any legitimate defensive talent. The finger shouldn’t be pointed at Pagano, it should be pointed at Ryan Grigson who woefully underwhelmed as the team’s general manager during that time.
Grigson failed over and over again to put together an offensive line to protect their franchise quarterback and he also failed to put together any kind of talent on the defensive side of the ball to balance the Colts’ roster. Also keep in mind, this was largely done when Andrew Luck was on a rookie deal and the team should have had a plenty of money to create a viable roster.
Grigson’s miss to put together a viable roster is one of the most egregious failures in NFL history as general managers go. Pagano’s underwhelming defensive stats are more a result of Grigson than they are of Pagano.
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Coaches need talent to succeed. When Pagano had talent in Baltimore, his lone season as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator, he had the top ranked defense in the NFL by DVOA. He also did solid work prior to that as the Ravens’ secondary coach helping elevate some lower level players and also aiding Ed Reed into a couple of the best seasons of his career.
There’s no guarantee that Pagano will have the defense perform as well as Vic Fangio did, but it’s also possible that Pagano has them play even better. He’s more aggressive than Fangio and he will attack the quarterback more than the Bears did in 2018.
With Todd Bowles in Tampa and Gregg Williams with the Jets, there isn’t an argument that there was a better hire than Pagano. Some people will say Ed Donatell should have gotten the job, but he doesn’t have the success at the NFL level that Pagano does. Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy wanted someone they could trust to be the “defensive head coach” like Fangio was, and Pagano is the right guy for the job.