The prevailing belief to this point is that the Chicago Bears defense will take a noticeable step back in 2019. Most of this is due to two key factors. One is that it’s hard to replicate the sort of production they had last year and also because they lost their defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio. His replacement, veteran coach Chuck Pagano certainly has quality experience but it’s hard to imagine him being able to sustain the unit’s success. One person thinks people aren’t giving him enough credit. That man is Ed Reed.
The nine-time Pro Bowler collected his gold jacket at the Hall of Fame ceremony in Canton, Ohio on August 3rd. He was humble and thankful to so many people in an emotional speech that spanned 36 minutes. At one point he paused and then spoke about his former coach in Pagano. One he credits with teaching him everything there is to know about being a great defensive back. Knowledge he would later craft into becoming one of the best safeties in NFL history.
It was a firm reminder that the Bears likely made the right decision with their choice for replacing Fangio.
Ed Reed is the go-to authority on Pagano’s coaching
Pagano and Reed were together for a long time. Reed arrived in Miami during the late 1990s. Pagano was his defensive backs coach during his entire college career. Then they reunited in 2008 when Pagano took over the Baltimore Ravens secondary. Reed had some of his best seasons during that stretch including nine interceptions and two defensive touchdowns that first year. He wasn’t lying when he said Pagano knows his stuff.
Nobody has bothered to admit it, but the Bears have already seen results from his influence. The secondary has been lighting it up thus far in practice down at training camp. Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Eddie Jackson, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Sherrick McManis and others have constantly created turnovers while giving the wide receivers fits in coverage. Some may chalk this up merely to the talent those players have.
That isn’t giving Pagano enough credit. His ability to elevate defensive backs doesn’t just apply to Reed. The Ravens pass defense ranked 20th in 2007. When he arrived the next year, it jumped up to 7th. In 2011, the Indianapolis Colts defense had eight interceptions. His first year as head coach in 2012, they got 12. The next year? They got 15. This is before mentioning his great work with pass rushers too.
Terrell Suggs, Robert Mathis, Erik Walden, and several others had their career-best seasons in sacks under his watch. Pagano is not some consolation prize. He is a good football coach and is dedicated to taking this defense to the next level.