Chuck Pagano

Bears DC Chuck Pagano To Retire

For a second time in three years, the Bears will need to replace their defensive coordinator. Chuck Pagano is preparing to retire, according to Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns of The Athletic (subscription required).

The former Colts head coach and cancer survivor spent two seasons as Chicago’s DC. The unit ranked in the top 10 in DVOA in each season. Pagano, 60, has been an NFL coach since 2001.

While Pagano’s defenses remained the anchor for offensively limited Bears teams, the group took a step back after Vic Fangio‘s 2019 departure. The Bears dropped from No. 1 in defensive DVOA in 2018 to eighth last season to eighth again this year. Certainly high marks, but with the Bears housing All-Pros in Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Jackson — and another below-average offense — the team finished 8-8 and lost a one-sided wild-card matchup in New Orleans.

Pagano coached the Colts for six seasons, leading the team to three playoff berths. Despite a 2012 cancer diagnosis, he returned to the sideline later that season. In 2013, the Colts notched the second-greatest playoff comeback in NFL history — beating the Chiefs after trailing by 28 points — and a year later ventured to the AFC championship game. Pagano’s Indianapolis run began to decline soon after, however, and ended following a 2017 season in which Andrew Luck missed.

A college coach since the mid-1980s, Pagano broke out as a head coaching candidate while with the Ravens in the late 2000s and early 2010s. He coached with the Browns and Raiders as well, working with those franchises and the Ravens as a secondary coach before a one-and-done season as Baltimore’s DC in 2011, and was with the Miami Hurricanes from 1995-2000.

Chuck Pagano Not Interested In HC Jobs

Chuck Pagano had a largely successful run as the head coach of the Colts, but he’s not interested in taking that title again in his career, as’s Jeff Dickerson writes. The Bears’ new defensive coordinator says he’s excited for his fresh challenge and doesn’t anticipate wanting an HC job after the 2019 season. 

I’m not. I’ve done it,” Pagano at his introductory presser. “I’m motivated to just help coach Matt Nagy be successful. Help this organization be successful. Help these kids grow and develop. That’s my motivation is to be the best I can be for this organization, for the McCaskey family, for Coach Nagy and for these players and for these coaches and help develop these guys. That’s the only thing I want to do.

The Bears hired Pagano earlier this month to replace Vic Fangio after he left to become head coach of the Broncos. It’s unquestionably a great opportunity for Pagano as he’ll be handed the keys to one of the league’s most talented defenses. He’ll have a great deal of freedom and creative control too as head coach Matt Nagy puts the bulk of his focus on the offense.

Our vision for this defense is to be the best,” Pagano said. “Can we be the best in the history of the game? The pieces are there, and they will continue to add pieces. Can we continue to be better than we were last year? Absolutely. It’s going to be very, very difficult and a huge challenge, but one we will be up for.”

For what it’s worth, Pagano interviewed with the Broncos and Packers for their HC openings in this past cycle, so a change of heart may not be out of the question.

Bears Hire Chuck Pagano As DC

After interviewing with team brass earlier on Friday, Chuck Pagano was hired as the Bears’ new defensive coordinator, the team announced [Twitter link]. 

The former Colts head coach and Ravens defensive coordinator returns to the sideline after a year-long hiatus in 2018. He will replace Vic Fangio, who left for Denver to take the Broncos’ head coaching position. Pagano finds himself in an ideal spot, as he inherits a defensive unit that ranked first in points allowed and in takeaways in 2018.

In addition to the Bears, Pagano received interest from the Browns, Cardinals and Jets for their defensive coordinator vacancy. He was also interviewed for head coach with the Packers and Broncos.

Pagano, 58, seemed like a wise choice for his experience running the same 3-4 defense that brought the Bears success a year ago, and his history with some of the league’s top defensive units, including the Ravens in 2011.

After serving as defensive coordinator in Baltimore for a year, Pagano assumed the head coaching role in Indianapolis. In six seasons on the job, he led the Colts to three 11-win seasons and another pair of 8-8 campaigns before going 4-12 without starting quarterback Andrew Luck in 2017.

Bears To Interview Chuck Pagano For DC

On Thursday, it was reported the Bears had interest in speaking with former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano about their open defensive coordinator role. Those reports were confirmed, as the team was expected to sit down with Pagano on Friday, Brad Biggs and Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune write

The Bears are emphasizing finding a replacement for Vic Fangio — who accepted the head coaching gig in Denver — who has experience in operating a 3-4 scheme and Pagano checks that box from his time in Indianapolis and with the Ravens as defensive coordinator.

Chicago is not the only team interested in Pagano. The Browns, Cardinals and Jets have all shown interest in the 58-year-old coach for their defensive coordinator. Before the spots were filled, he also interviewed for head coach with the Packers and Broncos.

Before spending 2012-17 with the Colts as head coach, Pagano found success as defensive coordinator with the 2011 Ravens, which he helped lead to the AFC Championship game. During that season, Baltimore boasted the league’s No. 3-ranked defense both in points and yards allowed.

The Bears are arguably the top landing spot for any defensive coordinator in 2019. In addition to having the top scoring defense with the most takeaways in 2018, the team also possesses a game-breaking talent in Khalil Mack to build around for the next several seasons.

Bears Interview Ed Donatell For DC, Have Interest In Chuck Pagano

The Bears on Thursday interviewed defensive backs coach Ed Donatell for their vacant defensive coordinator position, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Chicago also has interest in former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.

After losing ex-DC Vic Fangio — who became the Broncos’ head coach — earlier this week, the Bears attempted to land former Jets head coach Todd Bowles as their new defensive play-caller, but he ultimately followed Bruce Arians to Tampa Bay. Fangio led a defensive unit which ranked first in nearly every defensive metric, and is so well-stocked with talent that, as Biggs notes, general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy shouldn’t have trouble generating interest in the open position.

Donatell has been a Fangio disciple since 2011, following the longtime DC to both San Francisco and Chicago as a defensive backs coach. He’s also served as a defensive coordinator for the Packers (2000-03), Falcons (2004-06), and Redskins (2008). Per Biggs, Donatell’s contract with the Bears has run out, and if he’s not promoted to DC in Chicago, he’s likely to leave to join Fangio in Denver. Donatell has already had two stints as the Broncos’ defensive backs coach.

Pagano, 58, didn’t coach last season after being fired by Indianapolis, but he’s generated plenty of interest during the 2019 hiring cycle. He interviewed for both the Packers and Broncos head coaching positions, and has since been mentioned as a DC candidate for the Jets, Browns, and Cardinals. Just today, Pagano interviewed for a defensive backs coach position with the Panthers.

Cardinals, Browns Interested In Chuck Pagano

Both the Cardinals and Browns are interested in hiring former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano as defensive coordinator, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Pagano may indeed be the favorite for the Arizona job, per Somers.

Pagano, 58, didn’t coach last season after being fired by Indianapolis, but he’s generated plenty of interest during the 2019 hiring cycle. He interviewed for both the Packers and Broncos head coaching positions, and has since been mentioned as candidate to take over as the Jets’ defensive coordinator under new head coach Adam Gase. Just today, Pagano interviewed for a defensive backs coach position with the Panthers.

The Cardinals are looking for a veteran defensive coordinator to pair with rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and Pagano — who’s been coaching the NFL for nearly two decades — would certainly fit that bill. He also runs a 3-4 defense, the same scheme which Arizona prefers to deploy. Thus far, the only other candidate that’s been linked to the Cardinals’ DC gig is longtime NFL coach Dom Capers.

Like Arizona, Cleveland also hired a first-time head coach. Freddie Kitchens was a positional coach to open the 2018 season and had never ever served as a coordinator until midway through last year, so he could use an experienced defensive play-caller at his side. After installing Kitchens as their head coach, the Browns parted ways with former interim head coach/DC Gregg Williams and a number of defensive assistants. Cleveland is set to interview former Broncos’ head coach Vance Joseph for their defensive coordinator position on Friday.

Jets Interested In Gregg Williams, Chuck Pagano

Former Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams is in consideration for the Jets’ defensive coordinator position under new head coach Adam Gase, Adam Schefter of tweets. The Jets’ list also includes Chuck Pagano, according to Jason La Canfora of (on Twitter).

The Browns went 5-3 under Williams in the second half of 2018, but the Browns gave most of the credit for that to offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who was promoted to the role of head coach this week. After Kitchens was bumped up, the Browns and Williams parted ways.

Williams was widely mocked for last year’s assertion that several teams wanted him as a head coach, but there’s no denying that he is a highly-respected defensive mind. The Jets have serious holes on defense – specifically, their pass rush – but there is an opportunity for Williams to thrive in New York with players like safety Jamal Adams and $100MM+ in expected cap room to address areas of need.

Pagano’s name has surfaced again in the latest coaching cycle and he interviewed for the Packers’ and Broncos’ top jobs. At this stage, he’s realistically only in the running for lower staff positions. Aside from the Jets’ reported interest, the Panthers are set to meet with him to discuss their defensive backs coach position, according to Mike Florio of PFT.

Coaching Notes: Vikings, Fins, Bills, Broncos

When Mike Zimmer signed a Vikings extension in the 2016 offseason, the terms were not disclosed. But the sixth-year Minnesota coach revealed Thursday 2019 is the final year of his contract. While another extension could be on the way, Zimmer is, as of now, a lame-duck leader. The 62-year-old coach said he would not resign nor retire until his contract was up. It’s not unheard of for a coach to venture through a contract year, but it is obviously abnormal. The Vikings have qualified for the playoffs twice in Zimmer’s five years but were one of this season’s most disappointing teams, falling short of January football despite a roster full of extended veterans.

Here is the latest from the coaching circuit:

  • Elsewhere on the Vikings’ staff, the team is working to re-sign special teams coordinator Mike Preifer, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio reports (on Twitter). Minnesota is, however, exploring alternatives in case a re-up is not finalized. Preifer has been Minnesota’s ST coordinator since 2011. Preifer did not sign the rollover option after last season, per’s Courtney Cronin (Twitter link), making him a coaching free agent next week.
  • Brian Flores is set to meet with four teams in the coming days, and the Patriots linebackers coach’s first stop appears to be Miami. The Dolphins are making Flores their first interview, which Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets will begin Thursday night and last into Friday. Flores is slated to meet with the Browns, Broncos and Packers as well.
  • Another coach up for the Broncos‘ job, Zac Taylor is not the favorite going into the interview process, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. That could be expected of a 35-year-old position coach, and it could indicate the Broncos are serious about bringing Gary Kubiak back to the sideline as their OC. John Elway said a coaching role for Kubiak was being considered. A Taylor hire would seemingly impede this, but former Broncos running back C.J. Anderson said the similarities between the Rams’ offense and Kubiak’s Denver attack helped him assimilate quickly in Los Angeles. Mike Klis of 9News wonders if this could make a Taylor-Kubiak setup possible, with Klint Kubiak moving up to quarterbacks coach.
  • Flores’ Broncos interview will occur Monday. So will Vic Fangio‘s, per’s Jeff Legwold. Taylor and Mike Munchak will interview for the job on Friday. The Broncos finished their Chuck Pagano meeting Wednesday.
  • The Bills are moving on from two assistants, including special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, per’s Mike Rodak (on Twitter). As ESPN’s Seth Walder notes (via Twitter), Buffalo finished this season with the NFL’s worst special teams efficiency rating. Buffalo also fired wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, Marvez tweets. Twice an interim head coach, with the Redskins and Browns, Robiskie just completed his 37th season as an NFL coach. He’s been a wideouts coach for five teams; Crossman was a pre-Sean McDermott-era holdover, joining the Bills’ staff as ST coordinator in 2013.
  • Detroit will move on from another offensive assistant, firing Derius Swinton, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). Just 33, Swinton has already been an NFL assistant for 10 seasons, serving as the 49ers’ ST coordinator in 2016. Although he helped in that area in Detroit following Joe Marciano‘s midseason firing, his primary role was on offense. The Lions and OC Jim Bob Cooter parted ways this week. Despite serving under Cooter, Swinton was a Matt Patricia hire.

Broncos To Interview Chuck Pagano

The Broncos are expected to interview former Colts coach Chuck Pagano on Wednesday for their head coaching position and the interview could also stretch into Thursday, Ian Rapoport of tweets. Pagano has been rumored to be on the Broncos’ radar for some time and he’ll get an early opportunity to make his case. 

In June, Pagano, 58, told reporters that he was hoping to return to the sidelines soon after being fired from Indianapolis following a 4-12 season in 2017.

I’ve got a couple years left in me,” Pagano said. “I’ve got unfinished business. I’d love to have another opportunity, I just love being around the guys, being on grass and competing.”

In his first three seasons with the Colts, Pagano led his squad to back-to-back-to-back 11-5 seasons in Andrew Luck’s first years in the league. He then authored consecutive 8-8 campaigns before finishing 4-12 while Luck missed the entire season with an injury. All in all, Pagano owns a career 53-43 regular season record as an NFL head coach. Before the Luck-less ’17 season, Pagano was 49-31 over five years.

AFC Coaching Rumors: Jets, Broncos, Jaguars, Dolphins, Browns

Two coaches fired after the 2017 season look to have secured additional interviews about possible 2019 top jobs. Jim Caldwell will interview with the Jets, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. Chuck Pagano is now expected to interview with the Broncos, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Caldwell has already met with the Packers and been connected to the Browns’ wide-ranging search as well.

Here’s the latest from the AFC’s side of the coaching carousel.

  • Another year, another issue with the Jets‘ OC. After John Morton‘s stay in New York featured conflict, apparently Jeremy Bates‘ did as well. A growing frustration sprouted about Bates’ play-calling, something Jets GM Mike Maccagnan became aware of, Vacchiano reports. Bates is now in limbo after Todd Bowles‘ firing, and one agent suggested the Jets would have had to fire their OC if they wanted to land impact free agents on offense. Jermaine Kearse was also not happy with Bates’ work, per Vacchiano. The Jets may have more than one major hire to make in the coming weeks. Bates spent 2017 as New York’s QBs coach before taking over for Morton.
  • The expansive Browns search thus far does not include Josh McDaniels, Mary Kay Cabot of tweets. A Cleveland-area native, McDaniels was part of the Browns’ turbulent 2014 coaching search that ended with Mike Pettine. The Bengals have requested a meeting with McDaniels, but he has not yet accepted. McDaniels can interview this week because of the Patriots’ bye week.
  • The Broncos are monitoring Mike McCarthy, but no interview is as of yet scheduled, Klis tweets. McCarthy has been connected to just about every opening thus far. The 13-year Packers coach may sit this cycle out, unless he sees a perfect fit, Ian Rapoport of notes (video link).
  • Rex Ryan contacting possible assistant coaches about the Dolphins‘ vacancy appears to have been premature. He is not in the running to land the Miami job, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports (on Twitter). This would have been Ryan’s third AFC East job. The former Jets and Bills coach has not been mentioned on Black Monday as a candidate for any of the eight openings.
  • The latest Leonard Fournette incident appears to have cost a coach his job. The Jaguars fired running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley on Monday, Tom Pelissero of tweets. Jacksonville is retaining Doug Marrone but is looking for a new offensive coordinator, so there will now be another position available. Wheatley just finished his second season as the Jags’ RBs coach.
  • In addition to Wheatley, the Jags are canning three other assistants — defensive backs coach Perry Fewell, offensive line coach Pat Flaherty and defensive line coach Marion Hobby, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio reports (on Twitter). Both Fewell and Flaherty spent extensive time with Tom Coughlin on Giants coaching staffs. This was Hobby’s first NFL job.