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Hub Arkush: Chicago Bears’ addition of new DC Pagano looks like a home run

January 14, 2019

The Bears have a general manager and head coach who apparently are both very comfortable in their own skins.

Chuck Pagano wasn’t only one of the hottest defensive coordinator prospects available, he was viewed by a number of my sources as a head coaching candidate when the NFL’s 2019 job fair opened.

Pagano was a successful head coach in Indianapolis who won division titles and playoff games before his G.M.’s -- Ryan Grigson -- and his inability to get along became too much for either to overcome.

Still, Pagano left Indy following the 2017 season with a winning record, the respect of most of his peers and a ton of front office folks around the league.

While I think the world of Pagano, Grigson is also a friend and long time acquaintance so I’m not the one to determine whether one or the other was more responsible for their unpleasant divorce.

What is not open to debate though is after giving Pagano the invaluable gift of Andrew Luck, Grigson missed on a number of high draft picks making it harder and harder to compete.

What is also not debatable is, knowing Pagano’s history of a less than successful G.M. relationship in Indianapolis, it would have been easy for Pace to suggest to Nagy they not bring that experience to Chicago.

Apparently, all Pace wanted was the best guy for the job — and Pagano might be that and more.

Nagy also scores very high marks for moving immediately from Vic to a guy in Pagano who has far more head coaching experience than him, more gold stars on his resume and should the Bears fall on hard times, a guy some would look to as his potential replacement.

This is just another example of why Bears fans should feel so confident there is little chance the 2019 Bears will be the 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jags had some nice young pieces but the Bears are younger, more talented and Mitch Trubisky is much more exciting and promising than Blake Bortles.

And they’ve now proven again that Pace and Nagy are very much partners in their quest for the golden rings. How Tom Coughlin feels about his G.M., David Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone is anybody’s guess.

These Bears appear to be in very good hands at the top in the front office and on the field, and now on defense again as well.

Ed Donatell would have been a very good choice, but he didn’t bring the chops Pagano does.

It will be a huge loss if Donatell can’t be retained as secondary coach, which seems likely now after he developed All Pros Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson and future star Bryce Callahan.

But guess what? Pagano made his bones as a secondary coach teaching the likes of sure Hall of Famer Ed Reed in Baltimore before he became the Ravens D-coordinator in 2011 and oversaw a top-three NFL defense there.

And, if the Bears have to replace Donatell, and possibly also very well respected D-line coach Jay Rodgers if the rumors are true about him and Donatell joining Fangio in Denver, Pace and Nagy will get help from the veteran Pagano who put together an excellent staff in Indy including his first hire, Bruce Arians.

Pagano comes with a long ready list of quality assistants.

Will the transition be seamless? Probably not. Look at the disaster in 2007 with the Bears after Lovie Smith fired Ron Rivera and gave the job to Bob Babich to sooth Smith’s own ego.

But Babich, while one of the all time great guys, was nowhere near the DC candidate Pagano is, and obviously Nagy doesn’t struggle with the same insecurities Lovie did.

We should all be sad to see Vic go, he was a one of a kind.

Pagano is more aggressive than Vic, probably not the Maestro of zone coverage Fangio was and will have to learn this Bears secondary probably isn’t as good in man if he wants to blitz more as it is in zone.

But he’s very smart, adaptable, and these Bears appear to be in very good hands with Pace and Nagy, and now Pagano too.

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