- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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We have a theme developing in San Diego.
Apparently, the Chargers believe the answers to their problems will be corrected in-house. In a lightning-fast process, the Chargers promoted within for the position what will be their biggest leadership change of the offseason.
Hours after firing defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, the Chargers promoted linebacker coach John Pagano.
The Chargers clearly had their eye on Pagano. There was no rush in this hire. But I got the feeling coach Norv Turner wanted to make this move. Turner and general manager A.J. Smith were given a reprieve Tuesday. They hope this move helps San Diego get back to the playoffs after a two-year absence. Pagano is the fourth defensive coordinator in Turner’s six seasons in San Diego.
Pagano, the brother of Baltimore defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, has been on the Chargers’ staff since 2002. He was reportedly headed to UCLA to become the defensive coordinator there. However, he was a favorite of coach Turner and Pagano is well liked by San Diego’s players.
The last time the Chargers promoted a linebackers coach to defensive coordinator it was a brilliant stroke by Turner. Ron Rivera was promoted during the 2008 season. The Chargers were the No. 1 defense in the NFL under Rivera last year before he went to Carolina as head coach.
The Chargers slipped to No. 16 in the league this season.
Don’t expect the Chargers to change much under Pagano. They should continue to run a 3-4 defense. Pagano knows his personnel well. They key is to get more out of his players than Manusky did and to get better.
“We’re going to go out and play fundamentally sound defense,” Pagano said in a statement released by the team. “It’s still about tackling the guy with the football and getting after the quarterback and covering people downfield. We’re going to do what we need to do to help the Chargers win football games.”
The Chargers need to add at linebacker and at safety for starters as they try to improve the defense under yet another coordinator.
5dEric D. Williams