Tag Archive | "chuck pagano"

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Former Ravens safety Zbikowski joining Redding, Pagano in Indianapolis

Posted on 16 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Backup safety and kick returner Tom Zbikowski has reportedly agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

The fifth-year safety will be reunited with former Baltimore defensive coordinator and Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano, according to Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune. Former Ravens defensive end Cory Redding signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract to join the Colts on Wednesday, making Zbikowski the second Baltimore player to follow his coordinator to Indianapolis.

Much like fellow reserve safety Haruki Nakamura, who signed a three-year contract with the Carolina Panthers earlier in the day on Friday, Zbikowski’s departure is more about a desire to earn more playing time than it was about money. A third-round pick in the 2008 draft, Zbikowski made 14 career starts in his four seasons with the Ravens, including filling in for the first six games of the 2010 season while All-Pro safety Ed Reed was on the physically unable to perform list due to a hip injury.

Zbikowski began the 2011 season starting at strong safety opposite Reed before a concussion sidelined him for two games and he was replaced by Bernard Pollard. The former Notre Dame product became the team’s primary kick returner late in the season.

His departure now leaves special-teams contributor Emanuel Cook as the only reserve safety remaining from last season’s roster. The Ravens claimed Cook off waivers from the New York Jets in late November last season.

An Illinois native, Zbikowski will now have the opportunity to play closer to home as well as compete for a starting job in Indianapolis.

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Ravens free agents Grubbs, Redding taking visits elsewhere

Posted on 13 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Two Ravens free agents have already scheduled visits with other teams after failing to come to terms on new contracts prior to hitting the open market on Tuesday afternoon.

Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs has scheduled a Wednesday visit with the New Orleans Saints, according to multiple reports. With Saints guard Carl Nicks the top interior lineman on the open market and rumored to be heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Grubbs would be a suitable — and more affordable — replacement on the New Orleans offensive line.

Veteran defensive end Cory Redding was on his way to visit Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday evening, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. With Pagano targeting free agents from the defense he worked with as the Baltimore defensive coordinator in 2011, Redding would provide strong veteran leadership as well as a more affordable price than linebacker Jarret Johnson, who has also been rumored as a potential target for Indianapolis.

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Your Monday Reality Check-We’d Be Defensive And We’d Be Wrong

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Your Monday Reality Check-We’d Be Defensive And We’d Be Wrong

Posted on 05 March 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ll just say this up front and deal with the consequences of the comment at some other.

I know-as a fact-that at least one high profile Baltimore Ravens player has been involved with a “Pay For Play” scheme of some sort. That discovery was confirmed to me by both a current and former teammate.

This column isn’t about the details of that revelation, as I have not found the details to be particularly newsworthy. If that changes in the future, I will fully accept the responsibility of sharing them publicly. Instead I bring the note up only to make it known that such schemes are not so particularly unique and it is easy for others around the game of football to offer perspective and commentary.

I also share this to set the tone for an answer to a question asked many times since the “Bountygate” saga surrounding the New Orleans Saints and former Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams broke days ago.

“How would we react if it had been the Ravens?”

The question has been asked in the face of sharp criticism levied in the direction of Williams and company. National writers and local analysts alike have cried for severe punishment for both the individuals and the organization. Amongst the penalties suggested have been the loss of draft picks, six to seven figure fines, firings, suspensions and even the forfeiture of the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV title.

We’ll find out reasonably soon what the actual penalties will be, but the down time between the release of the National Football League’s findings and sentencing has certainly allowed for sports media driven by the NFL to run wild with questions/comments.

There don’t appear to be great numbers of supporters of the Saints’ sins, but there certainly appears to be more than a few football fans who have been willing to suggest “everyone does this” or “injuries are a part of the game” as a response.

There is a sense of relevancy at least to the latter. There is an awkward nature about every football game played at every level. Every competitor in every game lines up knowing their chances of victory would be greatly improved if their opponents’ best players weren’t on the field.

It doesn’t mean players have regularly worked to ensure their opponents left the field early, it just means the thought is always very much in their minds.

It certainly doesn’t mean it is okay for a coach/organization to pay players as a bonus for injuring opponents.

The other question regularly asked by the small group of Saints defenders is “how would you feel if it was your favorite team?” As I’ve already noted, I’ve wavered on this since first being asked.

Here’s my gut feeling. If the circumstances were either the same (or at least in some way similar), Charm City would be likely to be supportive of the Ravens. If Gregg Williams was Rex Ryan or Chuck Pagano and Sean Payton was John Harbaugh and the players involved were actually Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Jarret Johnson-we’d be much less likely to call for a death penalty-caliber punishment.

We’d be way more likely to be defensive of the persons involved, suggesting “the bounty wasn’t the reason the unit was successful” or reminding fans that bounties have existed throughout football history.

We’d do it for the same reason San Francisco Giants fans continued to support slugger Barry Bonds despite the escalating evidence suggesting Major League Baseball’s all-time home run king perhaps cheated en route.

I’m not suggesting a football bounty in any way compares to steroid use. I’m only suggesting that it is easier to support players/coaches from your own favorite team because even if you don’t agree with their methods at heart, you believe something more significant.

Those players were trying to help your favorite team win.

When a player accepted money from a Saints assistant to go after an opposing player (or for simple on-field achievement), they did so as part of an attempt to win. Not only were they successful, they were so successful they turned a perennially miserable franchise into a Super Bowl champion.

If the Baltimore Ravens were accused of something similar, it would be much too easy for us to just say “I don’t necessarily like it, but I’m glad they did whatever necessary to win.”

It does not in any way alter the actual facts.

The facts here are very simple. The New Orleans Saints broke the rules and perhaps risked permanently altering the lives of men who were friends, former teammates and simply “brothers” on the gridiron.

There is nothing that can be said that will ever make that acceptable in any way. I won’t attempt to tell you what sort of penalty that should bring with it, I will only tell you I too believe it should be significant.

I will also suggest again that asking “what would you think if it was your favorite team” is not a defense Saints fans should even consider in conversation.

I would probably be supportive. I would DEFINITELY be wrong.

-G

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Ranking the Ravens’ biggest defensive needs

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Ranking the Ravens’ biggest defensive needs

Posted on 15 February 2012 by Luke Jones

With free agency set to begin on March 13 and the draft to follow in late April, the Ravens continue to evaluate their needs in all three phases of the game.

After evaluating the biggest offensive needs on Monday, I offer my thoughts on the defensive side of the football by ranking the biggest positions of need entering the offseason.

1. Outside linebacker

For a team as rich as any at the linebacker position over the last 15 years, it’s unusual to see the Ravens with such glaring needs within the unit. Veteran Jarret Johnson is an unrestricted free agent and will be 31 by the start of the 2012 season, suggesting he would be a necessary casualty when addressing a list of 13 unrestricted free agents.

However, there isn’t a single option on the roster with which the Ravens would feel comfortable as a starting strongside linebacker. Paul Kruger shows ability as a pass rusher but has not shown the necessary ability in pass coverage or run defense to consider him an option as a three-down player at this point.

After appearing in only two games this past season, former second-round pick Sergio Kindle is probably more likely to be cut than to find himself in the starting lineup next season. The former Texas product has struggled to learn the Baltimore defense and still feels effects of a fractured skull suffered just days before what would have been his first training camp in 2010, but the 24-year-old will benefit from a full offseason at the team’s Owings Mills facility. Along the same lines as Kindle, Michael McAdoo — who spent the 2011 season on injured reserve — is an intriguing name to monitor but shouldn’t be in the discussion for a starting position at this point.

With that in mind, the Ravens might be more inclined to re-sign Johnson than many would think. Much like they did with Ray Lewis in the winter of 2009, the Ravens will allow the veteran linebacker to explore his value in the open market and see if they can come to an agreement that makes sense for both sides. Of course, new Indianapolis head coach and former Ravens defense coordinator Chuck Pagano could try to overpay for Johnson to bring a Baltimore flavor to the Colts defense. One factor working against the Ravens is a relatively-thin market for outside linebackers, which would not only drive up the price for Johnson but also mean they’d still have to pay handsomely for a replacement.

The Ravens would love to find a young outside backer who can play the run as effectively as Johnson while showing more ability in pass coverage. They could look to a draft prospect such as North Carolina’s Zach Brown, Oklahoma’s Ronnell Lewis, or Utah State’s Bobby Wagner in the early rounds, but the Ravens have rarely shown enough confidence in rookies to step into a starting job at the linebacker position.

The dream scenario would be to find an outside linebacker with enough pass-rushing ability to alleviate attention from Terrell Suggs on the opposite side, but Kruger did an adequate job in getting after the quarterback in passing situations.

2. Inside linebacker

The talk has only grown louder regarding the need to find the heir apparent to future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, but the Ravens first need to figure out who will be playing next to him in 2012.

Jameel McClain is an unrestricted free agent and while the Ravens have to be pleased with his development after signing him as a rookie free agent in 2008, the 26-year-old will likely command more money than Baltimore is willing to pay to retain his services. This would leave Dannell Ellerbe, Albert McClellan, and Josh Bynes as potential replacements. Ellerbe is an restricted free agent while the latter two are exclusive rights players, meaning all three are very likely to return.

Veteran Brendon Ayanbadejo is also a free agent, meaning the Ravens could be in danger of losing arguably their best linebacker in terms of pass coverage.

Ellerbe has shown impressive potential in limited doses, but his work ethic has come into question on a number of occasions to draw the ire of coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens might be content with plugging Ellerbe into the other inside linebacker spot for now, but he’s far from a safe bet to be an answer beyond the 2012 season.

The Ravens face a difficult proposition in how to handle Lewis, who still plays the run effectively but is a liability in pass coverage. The prudent answer would be to limit the veteran to action on first and second down, but explaining that to one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history is easier said than done. You also need to have a viable replacement before you tell the defensive leader he comes off the field in passing situations.

While there has been plenty of talk over the last year or two to find Lewis’ eventual replacement, this year’s draft appears to be a critical time to find an up-and-coming inside linebacker. The Ravens have been linked to both Dont’a Hightower of Alabama and Vontaze Burfict of Arizona State in various mock drafts. The problem is Hightower may be off the board by the time the 29th pick rolls around and Burfict’s character has come into question with a reputation for delivering cheap shots and reportedly sucker-punching a teammate in practice last August.

3. Safety*

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ChuckPagano

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New Colts coach Chuck Pagano on if he’s grabbing former Ravens in FA: “I think history tells you that’s the case”

Posted on 06 February 2012 by Ryan Chell

Indianapolis was crazy all last week hosting the Super Bowl, and right along with it has been the host city’s new football coach and ex-Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.

That was because Pagano-just days after the Ravens’ 23-20 loss in the AFC Championship game to the Patriots- didn’t have to wait long to get back to work at the game of football preparation because NFL teams kept calling for his services.

After just one season as Ravens defensive coordinator replacing Greg Mattison, Pagano apparently had built enough of a resume that the Indianapolis Colts called 1 Winning Drive and asked to interview the 51-year old for their coaching vacancy.

And they were impressed enough by Pagano’s demeanor, it only took one interview for owner Jim Irsay and new general manager Ryan Grigson to know who they wanted to replace the fired Jim Caldwell as head coach.

They hired Pagano on January 25th, making the move official.

Pagano hasn’t slept much over the last two weeks moving his life from Baltimore to Indianapolis but he did find a few minutes to  join Drew Forrester, Glenn Clark, and Nestor Aparicio last Thursday afternoon from Radio Row to offer a special message to Raven Nation.

“My thanks go out to Steve [Bisciotti], Ozzie, Coach Harbaugh, the rest of the guys and all the players, all the assistant coaches, and the fans. I had four great years there and it’s really the last thing I ever expected.”

Pagano joined the Ravens in 2008 as secondary coach and quickly became a favorite of the players.

When Pagano left for Indianapolis, several defensive players took the move hard, including corner backs Lardarius Webb, Domonique Foxworth, and safety Ed Reed.

It was equally as hard for Pagano to move on, and his leave his brothers-in-arms behind.

“I felt like I had the greatest job in America,” Pagano continued. “It’s a fabulous organization and I wish nothing but the best for them.”

It was the sheer shock of getting the call that made Pagano consider the offer. Despite his success this season leading the third-ranked defense, he thought his chance was going to come after a few years down the road.

“It’s crazy,” Pagano replied. “It’s the last thing I ever expected-obviously walking in that locker room and dealing with the heartache that everybody was coming off of with that loss.”

Pagano walked into his regular meeting Monday morning after the loss to New England, and Coach John Harbaugh handed a phone to him in his office.

“Indianapolis called…they want to talk to you,” Harbaugh said.

“I was like, ‘No way-come on…tell me you’re playing with me’,” Pagano told the WNST crew. “I got on the phone with Ryan Grigson-our GM, and he asked if I would come down.”

Pagano was also equally surprised considering he had no connections to Jim Irsay, the Colts, or Grigson in the past.

“I had only spoken with Ryan a year prior about some things…it was just a surprising deal.”

But now the holiday is over for Pagano. He’s already at work formulating his new coaching staff and preparing for the 2012 season.

Both of those preparations might and have already conflicted with the Ravens off-season plans, as Pagano already tabbed Baltimore assistants Marwan Maalouf and secondary assistant Roy Anderson on his coaching staff.

Right now, it’s all downhill from here for Pagano.

“We’re still putting the pieces of the puzzle together,” Pagano added. “We’ve got three great hires with Bruce Arians coming in an offensive coordinator…and Greg Manusky just signed on today.”

Pagano admitted that he tried to raid his ex-boss in John Harbaugh of more of his assistants, but there was only so much leverage John would allow.

“I tried to raid the hen-house of coaches, but between Ozzie and John I obviously knew that wasn’t going to happen.”

Pagano said that he’s had numerous offers from fellow co-workers and coaches and ex-players to come on board.

But he quickly shot down the belief that it was because of him that he was getting all these calls. It’s about the tradition of working for a storied franchise like the Colts.

“This city is phenomenal…there’s a ton of people that want to come to this city and be part of this organization.”

Could this include several former Ravens on defense who are free agents-Jarret Johnson, Haruki Nakamura, Tom Zbikowski, etc-who loved Pagano?

He said it would be foolish for the Ravens not to anticipate that. They’ve already experienced it with the exodus of players following Rex Ryan to New York.

“I think if you look at history and you look at the coaches that have moved on from there and took other jobs, I think history tells you that’s the case. Nobody does it better than those guys now and I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have my eye on a couple guys.”

But the one guy that Pagano is probably worried about-and this time as his coach as opposed to drawing up a game-plan against him-is his current quarterback in Peyton Manning.

His future remains in doubt as Colts quarterback, but Pagano isn’t worried about it. He knows and trusts in the people that are above him making those decisions for him.

“It’s obvious that Mr. Irsay and Peyton…the lines of communication are there. They’ll continue to talk and as time goes on…the situation will handle itself.”

Pagano said he has too much on his mind to involve himself with that he said he’s going to assume the right things get done.

It was the same approach he had in Baltimore, and that worked well enough for him.

“I’ve got so many things to do trying to reach out to players,” Pagano said, and put a staff together. I’ve got to do the best I can.”

WNST thanks Chuck Pagano for joining us on Radio Row and wishes him all the best in Indy…when they’re not playing the Ravens! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

 

 

 

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From Baltimore to Indy: Pagano says last 10 days have been whirlwind

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From Baltimore to Indy: Pagano says last 10 days have been whirlwind

Posted on 04 February 2012 by WNSTV

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Wrapping Up A Week at Radio Row in Indy

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Wrapping Up A Week at Radio Row in Indy

Posted on 04 February 2012 by Glenn Clark

It was another incredible week of Super Bowl coverage for us here at AM1570 WNST.net. Both “The Morning Reaction” with Drew Forrester and Luke Jones as well as “The Reality Check” with Glenn Clark emanated from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis every day. “Nasty” Nestor Aparicio was also part of the daily fun.

In case you missed anything we did, here is a list of the guest segments available for your consumption right now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.

-Adam Sandler (Actor)

-Matt Birk (Baltimore Ravens C)

-Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis Colts Head Coach, former Ravens DC)

-Curt Schilling (Former Baltimore Orioles/Boston Red Sox/Arizona Diamondbacks/Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher)

-Shannon Sharpe (Former Baltimore Ravens/Denver Broncos Hall of Fame TE, CBS)

-AJ Green (Cincinnati Bengals WR)
-Ingrid & Sarah Harbaugh (Wives of John & Jim Harbaugh)

-Jim Schwartz (Detroit Lions Head Coach)

-Mike Smith (Atlanta Falcons Head Coach)

-Marcus Allen (Hall of Fame RB)
-Larry The Cable Guy (Comedian)

-Priest Holmes (Former Baltimore Ravens/Kansas City Chiefs RB)

-Vanilla Ice (Musician/Actor)
-Will Forte (Actor/Comedian/Saturday Night Live alum)

-Lynn Swann (Former Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame WR)
-Greg Ballard (Mayor of Indy)

-Dustin Keller (New York Jets TE)
-Jason Taylor (Former Miami Dolphins DE)
-Frank Caliendo (Comedian)

-Jay Mohr (Actor/Comedian)

-David Feherty (Golf Channel)

-Mike Haynes (Former New England Patriots Hall of Fame CB)
-Brian Billick (Former Baltimore Ravens coach FOX/NFL Network)
-Herm Edwards (Former New York Jets/Kansas City Chiefs coach, ESPN)

-Dick Vermeil (Former Super Bowl winning St. Louis Rams coach)
-Marv Levy (Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame coach)

-Joe Theismann (Former Washington Redskins QB, NFL Network)

-Lorenzo Neal (Former Baltimore Ravens/San Diego Chargers FB)
-Rich Gannon (Former Oakland Raiders QB, CBS)
-Antonio Pierce (Former NY Giants LB)

-Jack Youngblood (Los Angeles Rams Hall of Fame DE)

-Dhani Jones (Former Cincinnati Bengals LB)

-Robbie Gould (Chicago Bears Kicker)
-Morten Anderson (Former New Orleans Saints/Atlanta Falcons Kicker)
-Bonnie Bernstein (ESPN/University of Maryland alum)
-Peter King (SI/NBC)
-Lesley Visser (CBS)
-Sal Paolantonio (ESPN)
-Laura Kaeppeler (Miss America 2012)

-Chrissy Teigen (SI Swimsuit Issue model)
-Will Witherspoon (Tennessee Titans LB)

(More on Page 2…)

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Ravens lose two coaches to Indianapolis, hire Martindale

Posted on 02 February 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 6:00 a.m.)

With Chuck Pagano moving on to become the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, the Ravens knew it was only a matter of time before losing an assistant or two from their coaching staff.

The Ravens’ former defensive coordinator has hired Marwan Maalouf to be his special teams coach and Roy Anderson to coach the Indianapolis safeties. Maalouf spent the last four seasons as the top special teams assistant to Jerry Rosburg, and Anderson spent the last three years as a defensive assistant.

While losing two assistants, the Ravens will also gain one with the expected hiring of former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale. The Denver Post first reported that Martindale will coach the Ravens’ inside linebackers, replacing Dean Pees, who was promoted to defensive coordinator earlier in the week.

“Don brings extensive pro and college experience to the Ravens, and he has been a defensive coordinator at both levels,” Harbaugh said in an official statement. “He’s known for his hard work, intelligence and thorough teaching, and his players have always responded well to his coaching. He’ll earn the respect of our players. I’m confident about that.”

The 49-year-old Martindale has spent seven years coaching at the NFL level and 18 years of combined experience at the collegiate and pro levels. He was the defensive coordinator for Denver in 2010 after coaching the Broncos’ linebackers in the previous season.

“I am excited to be part of a great team and great organization like the Ravens,” Martindale said. “When I got the call, it was a no-brainer. There has always been a great defense here, led by tremendously talented players and coaches, and I am thrilled to be a part of a proven system.”

With Martindale’s hiring to coach the inside linebackers, Ted Monoachino will serve as the linebackers coach after coaching the outside linebackers the past two seasons for the Ravens. A seven-year coaching veteran, Monachino has been credited by Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs as a major factor for a 14-sack season that’s garnered plenty of consideration for the AP Defensive Player of the Year award.

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Ravens promote Pees to defensive coordinator, retain Cameron

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Ravens promote Pees to defensive coordinator, retain Cameron

Posted on 27 January 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens made official on Friday what had been anticipated for several days with the promotion of linebackers coach Dean Pees to defensive coordinator and the retaining of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for the 2012 season.

Pees takes the place of former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who was hired as the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts earlier in the week. The 62-year-old Pees spent the last two seasons as the linebackers coach in Baltimore after serving as the defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots from 2006 to 2009.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to be a defensive coordinator in this league — or at any level — but it’s especially humbling to be one for the Baltimore Ravens,” said Pees, who will take the reins of a unit that allowed the third-fewest points and yards in the league. “The strong tradition here throughout the years, and especially right now, I can’t say enough about our defensive room and what it’s like to even be a part of that.”

The new coordinator ran a similar system in New England to what the Ravens have run over the last several seasons, but Pees quipped that he’s a bigger fan of Baltimore’s defensive scheme. Entering his 40th season in coaching, Pees is looking forward to working with a defense with a unique personality and doesn’t plan on changing what the Ravens defense has been in recent seasons.

Though he doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve as noticeably as Pagano, Pees has earned positive reviews from veterans such as Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson over his two seasons in Baltimore.

“The tradition of this defense will continue and it will flourish and it will get even better,” Harbaugh said.

While the decision to promote from within to fill the defensive coordinator job was not surprising — coach John Harbaugh confirmed the Ravens did not look outside the organization to fill the position — the Ravens’ preference to keep Cameron will raise more than a few eyebrows among the many critics of an inconsistent Baltimore offense. The Ravens finished 15th in yards per game and 12th in points scored in 2011.

Many speculated Cameron would not return unless the Ravens advanced to the Super Bowl, but the coordinator was reassured by general manager Ozzie Newsome that his expiring contract would be renewed and he would be returning for a fifth season in Baltimore.

“Obviously, we’ve got a lot of unfinished business,” said Cameron, whose contract terms are still in the works. “Our focus will be the same: getting better. I think we got better in some areas, but we’ve got some areas we need to continue to improve in. It’s exciting.”

Cameron’s relationship with quarterback Joe Flacco has come under scrutiny over the last few seasons, with growing speculation the two have not shared the same visions for the Baltimore offense. However, Cameron has a strong relationship with Harbaugh, who has been pleased with his offensive coordinator over the last four seasons.

Both Harbaugh and Cameron pointed to the dramatic changes made to the offense without the benefit of a full offseason to adjust. Key veterans such as wide receiver Derrick Mason and tight end Todd Heap were cut just days before the start of training camp. The offensive line also featured only two starts playing the same position at which they played in 2010 while shifting to a zone-blocking scheme to improve the running game.

“It was a forgone conclusion to me,” Harbaugh said about the decision to keep Cameron. “If you look at the way our offense played this year and the job our players did on offense and our coaches did, I was excited about it.”

Though Cameron will continue to be the architect of the Ravens’ offensive, the Ravens will evaluate the infrastructure of the offensive coaching staff to create more productivity in 2012. Harbaugh confirmed the Ravens will consider hiring a quarterbacks coach after the position went unfilled after Jim Zorn was fired following the 2010 season.

The Ravens are still in the process of filling Pees’ vacated position as the linebackers coach.

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Ravens’ Pagano to become next head coach of Colts

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Ravens’ Pagano to become next head coach of Colts

Posted on 25 January 2012 by Luke Jones

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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