- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Ravens players thought they might lose a coordinator this offseason. But everyone thought it would be Cam Cameron and not Chuck Pagano.
Losing Pagano -- who was named the Colts new head coach today -- is a a big shock and a big blow to a Ravens' defense. He did more than take Baltimore from being the 10th-ranked defense to the third-ranked one. Pagano brought back the swagger to the Ravens defense that had lost its way.
Changing defensive coordinators is nothing new to the Ravens. They've maintained success in going from Marvin Lewis to Mike Nolan to Rex Ryan. But it's different with losing Pagano. There's an uneasiness now because of what preceded him.
Before Pagano took over the defense, Baltimore rarely blitzed and recorded a team record-low 27 sacks in 2010 under coordinator Greg Mattison. In their first season under Pagano, the Ravens went on attack mode and finished first in the AFC with 48 sacks.
The frontrunner to replace Pagano is linebackers coach Dean Pees, who was the Patriots defensive coordinator from 2006 to 2009. The Ravens could also look at defensive line coach Clarence Brooks.
Whoever it is, the new coordinator can't allow the aggressiveness on defense to leave with Pagano, who wasn't afraid to blitz linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks. Under Pagano, the Ravens defense played like the one of old. Pressuring the quarterback led to turnovers, which led to easy scores. The Ravens led the NFL with 21 forced fumbles this season, which was three more than any other team.
The Ravens took the personality of Pagano, who took pride in being a gambler when it comes to defense.
"My motto's always been: They can fire you but they can't eat you," Pagano said during the season. "If we go down, we're going down saying we put it all out there. Not that we want to be stupid. We have to take calculated risks. But we will let the fur fly."
The Ravens' challenge isn't finding another defensive coordinator. They have to find another risk-taker.