Ravens’ Pagano to become next head coach of Colts

January 25, 2012 | Luke Jones

Ravens’ Pagano to become next head coach of Colts

In what’s easily been the most frustrating week in the history of the franchise, the Ravens will now need to look for a new defensive coordinator as Chuck Pagano has been hired as the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Leading the Ravens to the No. 3 overall defensive ranking in his first season as coordinator, Pagano interviewed with Indianapolis on Tuesday before being offered the job on Wednesday. The 51-year-old spent three seasons as the Baltimore secondary coach before being promoted to replace former defensive coordinator Greg Mattison last offseason.

“It’s difficult to leave the Ravens but I couldn’t pass up on this great opportunity,” Pagano said to the Ravens’ official website. “I’m just thrilled and so excited.”

Pagano was extremely popular with his defensive players and brought a more aggressive play-calling style than Mattison, helping the Ravens improve from a franchise-low 27 sacks in 2010 to an AFC-best 48 this season.

“He just had an inkling for [making the right calls],” linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo told AM 1570 WNST on Wednesday afternoon. “More than anything, he wasn’t going to rely on just going vanilla and saying, ‘Oh, we’re going to beat everybody just going vanilla.’ That’s what coach Mattison liked to do.”

The Ravens sent four defensive starters to the Pro Bowl this year, including linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, and free safety Ed Reed.

Pagano will be introduced to the Indianapolis media in a press conference on Thursday afternoon. The Colts fired general manager Bill Polian and head coach Jim Caldwell following a disastrous 2-14 season without quarterback Peyton Manning.

“We are so happy for Chuck, [his wife] Tina and their daughters,” coach John Harbaugh said in an official statement. “We are proud of him. Like me, Chuck grew up in the game and loves it. We will miss him and thank him for all he did for the Ravens.”

The 51-year-old will likely usher in a new era with Indianapolis primed to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in April’s draft. Ayanbadejo said the Colts will immediately take to Pagano’s infectious personality.

“He was one of those guys [where] it was like he was out on the field of battle with you and you’d never want to let him down, because he’s such a good guy,” Ayanbadejo said. “He’s also a family guy and a great person. You really felt like you knew him, and more than anything, you just didn’t want to let him down.”

Pagano had previous stints as a defensive assistant with the Cleveland Browns and the Oakland Raiders and also coached at several colleges, including most recently at the University of North Carolina before being hired by Harbaugh in 2008.

The Ravens will also wonder what impact Pagano’s departure might have on their list of defensive players with expiring contracts. Linebackers Jarret Johnson, Jameel McClain, and Ayanbadejo, defensive end Cory Redding, safeties Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura, and defensive tackle Brandon McKinney are all set to become unrestricted free agents and could now view Indianapolis as a viable alternative to the Ravens, who will not have a great deal of salary cap space.

After former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan was hired as the head coach of the New York Jets in 2009, linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard joined him in the Big Apple as free-agent signings.

Baltimore will now have its fourth defensive coordinator in five years after Rex Ryan, Mattison, and Pagano all held the job under Harbaugh. The most logical in-house candidate to fill the role would be linebackers coach Dean Pees, who was the defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots from 2006 to 2009 before moving on to Baltimore.

“I don’t think you’ll see any letdown if Dean Pees takes over,” said Ayanbadejo, who described Pees’ relationship with players as one based more on respect than the emotional Pagano. “You might even see a better defense if Dean Pees takes over because he likes things done a certain way, and he’s really particular about the way he does things.”

Pagano becomes the fourth defensive coordinator in the history of the franchise to depart for a head coaching position elsewhere, joining Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan, and Ryan.

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17 Comments For This Post

  1. barnyard Says:

    Say it isn’t so. Bet Irsay hired him just to stick it to the city of Balto like his old man did. Pagano is a good defensive coach but somehow doesn’t impress me as head coach material. Hope he got a good contracy cause he’ll be canned in three years unless Luck in more ways than one can save him. So Rex will be chopped next year & can return as D.C. but what do we do in the meantime. Smart guys in the waiting or do we need to steal a young bright mind from the college ranks?

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    Well bad things usually come in 3s. Hey Chuck good luck you will need it. Never thought you would get the job. Guess old Jimbo has the love and Karma thing going for Baltimore once again! Dont tell me this was not personal. F you Irsay!

  3. Brian Says:

    So the Colts weren’t enough, they have to take a piece of the Ravens as well. Unreal.

    Out of respect Irsay should have stayed away from all things Baltimore but he just couldn’t help himself. What a jerk !

    Irsay just sealed his and Peyton’s fate with this bad karma move. Little Bro’s going to Indy to win a SB in their backyard.

    Go Eli !!!

  4. Jarrod Says:

    People in this city need to evolve. Get over the Colts leaving if that is ever possible, and the constant belly aching of Irsay constantly trying to “stick it” to this city. This is how the NFL works. If you have an elite defense (or offense) your coaching staff will be highly coveted by other organizations in search of coaches. Stop being small minded, and myopic with each and every opinion. Chuck has paid his dues, and the Colts feel he is the best leader for their organization.

  5. Art Lawrence Says:

    Well said Jarrod.

  6. Ed Says:

    BOOM! That just happened.

  7. unitastoberry Says:

    @ Jarrod and Art. You guys cant tell me that Pagano is head coach material when people like Billick,Gruden,Cowher,Del Rio,etc,are out there.Heck if Manning is shot and cant play anymore he would be a hell of a head coach himself.I wish Chuck all the best but dont ask me to “evolve” as a Baltimore sports fan.This whole city was held captive for 13 long years in a football hell because of that family enabled by a league that STILL does not want a team here.Jimbos actions in 96 with Modell over the name return and now with stealing the only good coach we have speak volumes.

  8. Art Lawrence Says:

    @unitas – qho cares if he is great head coach material – thats the colts problem…not baltimore. if you are going to live in the past – maybe you would like to discuss how cleveland. In 1995 – they go 5-11, the following year move to Baltimore and see the ravens draft Ray Lewis and Jon Ogden….based on a record that browns fans had to endure…not Ravens fans. You don’t think those 2 players would have changed the fate of cleveland football? They may have a team, but the ravens have their soul (the football execs). Our past is not so great either.

  9. Ed Says:

    Cue the blather about the Browns being able to keep their name, colors, records, etc.

    It’s 2012 people. We have a pretty darned good football team and their name is the “Baltimore Ravens”.

    Enjoy the woman you fell in love with back in 1996, and quit pining for the one who packed up in 1983, threw all your Barry Manilow and Cheap Trick vinyl in the moving van, and drove off in the middle of the night for another man without the decency of giving you back your last name.

    SHE. AIN’T. COMING. BACK!

  10. unitastoberry Says:

    @Art “Our past is not so great either”? In case you dont know what Baltimores football past is I suggest you spend a day at the Sports museum next to Camden Yards . Or you can get the book by Vince Bagli called Sundays at 2:00 with the Baltimore Colts. It should be required reading for all Baltimore Sports fans. Its the NFLs own fault that we stole the Browns because they did not give us an expansion team, one of which(Jags)cant get people to attend and also beat us this year and took the number one seed away from us. You ever wonder why theres all these home grown Steeler fans around Baltimore esp Hartford County?
    @ Ed I love the Ravens and so far the owner too. I dont want the Colts back. But you cant deny NFL history. And history usually repeats itself. BTW I never owned a Barry Manilow album. Now Cheap Trick is another story…

  11. jj Says:

    Unitas-how do you know any of those coaches want to take over a 2-14 team with a rookie qb?

  12. unitastoberry Says:

    @jj If the $money$ is right with a first pick in the draft you could over pay and get a Billick etc. If Manning leaves they will need something to keep the fan base energized.

  13. Art Lawrence Says:

    @UB: wouldn’t taking billick be an insult to baltimore as well? I mean, he’s the only coach whose led us to a super bowl…so i imagine you would have to find some slight to baltimore there right? I heard Indy even has a red light district that they call “The Block” – those SOB’s.

    You are no unitas – you are more Art Schlichter material.

  14. James Says:

    To Unitastoberry: You must be from my era. I have read The Bagli book (and know who Vince Bagli is) and also the John Steadman book from “Colts to Ravens” also a must read for all Raven Fans. To learn all the behind the scene deeds the NFL did to us at that time. I love the Ravens. I loved the Colts. I have gotten over the move except whenever I see Lenny Moore, all the good memories come back and the thought of our team playing in INDY makes me sick. Pagano Good Luck there are only so many Head coaching jobs available. Grab one when you can.

  15. unitastoberry Says:

    @ Art Admit your a Steeler fan trolling for kicks.

  16. BleedsPurple Says:

    Just keep winning purple and black. We will get ours and cLEAVELAND and those thieving Indys will get theirs too. The 2 armpits of the NFL.

  17. Art Lawrence Says:

    @unitas: not a steelers fan…but i think it’s insulting that you bring up kicks…give us time to heal.

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