The bears took four years to build an ideal modern defense with Vic Fangio. Four years to not only accumulate special talents such as Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, Roquan Smith and Akiem Hicks, but also obtain the best result. Then, after the Bears finally retook their legitimate ledge as the main defense of pro football in 2018, the brain behind their operation at Fangio went to the Denver Broncos faster than you can say, "head coach."
Concerns of an established continuity came, which dispelled what the Bears had achieved on the defensive. The loss of a mentor, who was surely following his dream, was leaving behind the basis of something that was supposed to be worthwhile and last. The Bears' defense had just become something really big and their "evil genius", in the words of a leader like Mack, had gone without sunbathing in what should be the glory.
There's still a lot of fun, so many ruined afternoons for offensive coordinators and quarterbacks alike. But none of that will happen with Fangio. No other electrifying pick-six from Jackson, the demoralizing sack of Mack, the missile from a Smith tackle or the brutal display of power by Hicks will happen under his watch.
The man who gets the fortune and the almost insurmountable task of building on another collective defensive legend of the Bears is the new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. A tailored defensive trainer to not mess with what works, and to keep the Bears in the limelight because of who their core is.
On a quiet, wintry day at Halas Halas on Thursday, Pagano slowly approached a podium prepared at the PNC Center. After a year away from football, it is not worse for wear and tear and has no signs of wear anywhere on your face. In the perfect example of the kind of person Pagano is, he actually has a relaxed smile on his face. This part of the process, the formal introduction and the beginning of an badociation that could be remembered over time, is something he enjoys as much as the grinding of the tape, the facilities of the game and the relationships. All that matters, down to the last detail.
Pagano, of course, is conveniently (and necessarily) already fully marked as Bears, wearing the habit of franchising and behaving like the experienced coach he is. His new home soon became a new home. If he were bothered by a difficult ending to a head coaching job in Indianapolis with the Colts, where he barely had four victories in his last season in 2017, he could never know.
That's not because Pagano does not carry his emotions in his sleeves. It is the opposite for a pbadionate coach and man in one. Pagano would not be in the position to be so kindly the best defense of football in the Bears if he were not a pbadionate person. His pbadion and emotion are his best features. That is not limited to football. It just happens that he can apply it in this specific avenue of his life. His pbadion and honesty are the ways he befriends friends, family, coaches and players at the same time. Nowhere could it be exemplified better than the way his fateful stay in Indianapolis began.
In 2012, Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. He had recently achieved a dream job for which he had worked for most of his adult life and the reality of the circumstances he could not control fell apart. Appropriately, in typical Pagano style, he did not shy away from the fight. He did not internalize one of the most distressing human battles. He relied on him to give an example to those in his life, both inside and outside of football, of what it means to have strength. He offered a template on how to overcome adversity and never hesitated to do so. In turn, and as expected, Pagano's victory over cancer became a battle cry for the Colts. "ChuckStrong" was born as the resolution of a man with the most impeccable positive and genuine attitude that shone.
"I have circumstances, you understand, I understand," Pagano said breathlessly to a victorious Colts dressing room in November 2012, visibly exhausted by the rigors of his fight. Then there was a pause.
"He's already beaten, he's already beaten," Pagano stressed.
A test that arrived at the least convenient time had already been conveniently discarded. Pagano was clearly tired even as he spoke his words of inspiration, but he never had any doubts about the darkness.
Through all that exhausting effort, Pagano never allowed himself to become something he was not. If the way he trained was always sincere, the struggle for his life would also experience the same. If you approached your whole life with positivity and initiative, why would you overcome the disease, even at the most inopportune moment, see something different? A situation that would have left a younger person looking for answers instead became a defining moment about what it means to carry your heart up your sleeve, no matter what.
By moving on to the present, and only because Pagano is ready to overcome his previous obstacles, challenges and failures, he has a smile on his face on this cold January morning. He is not only prepared to move beyond them. He wants to channel them to be better coaches than ever. Last year has been one of relaxation and reflection for Pagano. It's about focusing on what matters intrinsically and restarting to do what it does best: train football professionals who need attention, mentoring and guidance to be excellent.
Pagano took a necessary one-year respite from the NFL to decompress and enjoy the simpler aspects of life. After perching on the benefits of a physical and mental recharge, time is over to sit on the sideline and watch the game go by. The pbadionate and happy man with his heart in his sleeve knows that there is a lot of work ahead.
He is where he belongs, and he would not have it in any other way.
Pagano, 58, is not a man to be carried away with hollow bravado. He does not try to be someone he is not. He prefers to be his most authentic self, since that is how he knows he can connect with people. If you're not yours, you can not do a great career, from the positions of graduate badistant with USC and Miami in the 80s to the highest positions in Indianapolis.
"Sitting 33 years training, and then sitting last year, I can not tell you how excited I am to be back on the grbad in such a special and special place," Pagano said delightedly to a media contingent of the Bears. "I am very excited, I am very grateful, and I have high hopes of being a bear."
Being yourself is one of the most common advice a person receives in life, and it is applied professionally, romantically and socially. It sounds easy at a glance. Do not hide who you are and the incredible opportunities will not only come, but will be thrown at your feet. Let your personality shine, defects and wonders and everything, and people will gravitate towards you. Being yourself should not have to be a reverberated mantra because it is the easiest thing a person can do. While there are parts of our lives in which we do have to reach the stars outside of our means, who we are we will never change. Our best badet is our identity and ability to be genuine. When we promote our identity, the hope is that we touch people in the right way.
But being yourself is never so easy. This is especially true for a football coach who has to balance a lot of voices, young and old. A coach who has to interact and communicate constantly with people so that many people may have difficulties to be just themselves. Even the most successful lose sight of who they are, since they believe that emitting a different aura that does not match their real person is the path to glory. Coaching, however, is not about sacrificing who you are for the greater good. It's about using the best parts of yourself to help others transcend and transform into the best versions of themselves.
As he begins his football journey back in Chicago, Pagano's boss is a bit excessive, his new coaching partner in Matt Nagy is known to talk about the joy of being oneself. "Be You" is a new slogan that separates bears from the new era of most of the team's previous iterations. "Be You" is the way Pagano, who has been in football for much longer than Nagy, built an underappreciated reputation.
It's a match made in heaven for a man who wanted to go back to his roots.
"There are many things, like Coach Nagy will tell you that you have sat in that chair for a year, and that I sat on it for six years." There are many times when I said: "Boy, I would like to be a defensive coordinator, man, I would like to be a secondary coach, "Pagano said frankly in his reflection." It had nothing to do with coaching, it had nothing to do with the football side. work ".
An outstanding secondary guru who prefers the practical aspects of training, Pagano could not always do it as head coach of the Colts. As a head coach, you should worry about every aspect of the team down to the last detail. Everything begins and ends with you. That "other thing" that Pagano mentions but does not complain about, is not always related to football or training and the creation of trust with the players. The minutiae are those that take on a life of their own, drag you and take away what many coaches of the profession seek: coach.
In Chicago, Pagano does not have to worry about anything other than maintaining a stifling defensive train. With the Bears, he has found the best possible means to take home his extraordinary pbadion over and over again. Nagy's job as head coach is to keep up with the day to day of the entire list and organization. Pagano's job is to be the shoulder and leader that a stacked defense of the Bears needs to climb the NFL mountain. Like most things, he will do it himself.
"I'm a coach at heart, it would not have mattered what the role was, I'm very, very lucky to have this opportunity and get this job," Pagano said of his comeback with the Bears. "Being away, I always have a great perspective on things, a great perspective on life, but it's how lucky we are and the privilege of being here."
As Pagan would know, you will never go anywhere if you do not delight and enjoy the moment. It is safe to say that he has nailed this part.
In 2011, the Ravens had the best defense in the NFL. From top to bottom, the Ravens' defense took the competition to task each week, sometimes humiliating them in the process. It did not matter that key players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were over 30 years old. Baltimore still had problems with the rest of the league on the way to an appearance in the 2012 AFC Championship Game.
At the helm as a necessary firm hand was Pagano. In his first and only period as professional defensive coordinator, Pagano was the puppeteer that the already wonderful Ravens needed to keep their game at the highest level. Rarely was there a game in which the Baltimore defense was victim due to shyness or lack of a well-transmitted reason. This was an aggressive unit full of confidence. This was a defense with future Hall of Famers and rising youngsters ideally mixed, almost like the current Bears, who never lost sight of their ultimate goal.
In Chicago, Pagano is expected to reproduce much of the same. A fall of what Fangio built will not be a surprise, but neither will it be tolerated. That is a feeling that the coach appreciates because it gives him a standard to work for. The Bears defense is special now. The Bears defense must continue to be special, without questions, with a new head like Pagano.
Do not mess with something good, just do it better … if you can.
"They've been playing a great defense here for a long, long time, and last year was no exception," Pagano said. "For us to just throw everything away and start over, it would not be smart on my part."
Where Lewis is one of the best supporters in the history of football, players like Smith will have to become the face of a feared defense under Pagano. Where Reed was the most feared ballhawk in football, players like Jackson must continue their legacy steadily. Where powerful and boisterous stars like Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs led the Ravens' career, a powerful but humble star like Khalil Mack has only the brightest stars to come.
Pagano knows the situation he is entering with Chicago. The machinations of that type of great players and comforts are in place. Someone just has to steer the wheel. That's what makes this new opportunity for the coach so exciting. The Bears, the NFL's best defense in the most relevant categories, can improve and they can do it guided by him.
How can it be more exciting than that?
"Our goal and our mindset will improve every day. We will be intentional and will be deliberate in everything we do, "Pagano said about how his new defense of the already prepared Bears can take it to a higher level." We can all improve physically, mentally, knowing the playbook, knowing the opponent. to be a beginner's mentality, enter as if it were your rookie year. "
Making a thought that sounds like a typical coach talk is good and good. When they talk about positivity and break the game, most coaches talk almost as if they are reading a script prepared without a touch of originality in their voice. They do not believe what they say. They are just saying something because they have to say it.
When Pagano says it, you know he means it. When Pagano talks about his goals at a basic level, there is a cliché, since some of them can be fundamental and, otherwise, he is not bluffing. A bear defense full of stars knows that it can improve. Pagano, after taking that necessary time, knows that they can be better and that they will find a way to press their buttons in due time.
It is Pagano's defensive style, defined by his most authentic personality and personality, which can bring out the best in his players. It is through his more difficult experiences, not always related to football, that Pagano can convey what it means to be someone with whom the Bears' defenders can count on in a moment of haste.
The journey ahead will not be easy for Pagano as the defensive driver of the Bears. This orchestra will have unforeseen failures along the way in regards to injuries, unrestrained controversy and the walls that the Bears will not be able to climb at the beginning. The point is that any wall that the Bears' defense struggle to climb will probably not be different from anything Pagano has seen before. In fact, they will probably be largely the same types of problems in their place as they were under Fangio.
That's the beauty of training professional football at its peak for so many years: at some point, the element of surprise is gone. If you are a coach good enough to innately understand, not only your players, but yourself, you have the advantage over most others. That's where Pagano has the advantage of keeping the Bears not only afloat, but full steam ahead. After getting away from the game to be complete again, Pagano is fully prepared to invest his own essence in exactly what the Bears' defense needs.
About a year ago, Pagano was unceremoniously fired by the Colts after six years. He knew he did not have to reinvent himself. I just needed a break. What he came back to is something he could only have dreamed of. The man with a relaxed but calculated plan has returned to the NFL, and is on a mission. He will continue to be himself, as will his players in following his example, and the Bears will see where he leads them.
"Cause the chaos, and calculate about it … keep it nice and easy to learn," Pagano said in the same way he trains the defense. "We do not want to jam them, let those guys play, we have a lot of arrogance in that room and I believe in the booty."
Pagano is where he belongs, and he knows he has something good going on. He would not have it in any other way.
Robert is the Editor-in-chief of The Blitz Network (subscribe here!), the editor in chief of Windy City Gridiron, and writes for a number of other excellent publications. You can follow him on Twitter. @RobertZeglinski.