Chuck Pagano was hired as defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears back in 2019. At the time, it made sense. With Vic Fangio leaving, head coach Matt Nagy felt a veteran presence was needed in order to keep the defense happy. Pagano, with his personable style and motivational skills made sense. However, as time has gone on it’s become apparent the man has limitations.
While his ability to motivate players isn’t an issue, his ability to scheme them into advantageous positions is. His system has been called “vanilla” and “predictable” by many experts. They don’t do a lot of fancy things. This has created problems for the defense in their ability to catch opponents off guard. Sacks and takeaways have both been on a steady decline since Pagano took over. It never feels like the defense is the aggressor these days.
It’s why calls for him to be fired grow louder by the day.
There is a strong possibility they will become deafening in New Orleans on Sunday. The Saints have one of the best offenses in the NFL. It’s in the Superdome. Chicago won’t have Roquan Smith and Jaylon Johnson is still banged up. Everything is lining up for it to be an ugly afternoon for the defense. If that happens, people could lose their jobs that following week. If Matt Nagy somehow survives, it’s possible he may go hunting for a new defensive coordinator.
Some may believe he seeks another outside option. However, that shouldn’t be necessary. The Bears already have an assistant in their midst who is ready for a promotion to that job. He’s been ready for years.
Chicago Bears need to put Jay Rodgers in charge
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Rodgers is arguably the best defensive line coach in the NFL. He transformed Akiem Hicks into a Pro Bowler. Eddie Goldman became a top 3 nose tackle in the league. Bilal Nichols just set a career-high with five sacks this season. Other journeymen like Nicholas Williams and Mario Edwards Jr. have also excelled under his direction. The guy routinely proves he’s capable of getting the most out of his players.
He’s also gotten an education from some pretty good defensive minds. He was a graduate assistant for Nick Saban at LSU. Then in Denver, he got the chance to work under both Dennis Allen and Jack Del Rio. Both of whom produced a top 5 defense this year. Then when he joined the Chicago Bears, he was taken under the wing of Vic Fangio. At 44-years old, Rodgers is ready for the next step up the ladder.
All the Bears have to do is open the door.
Chuck Pagano isn’t a bad guy. He’s a fine coach. Yet the reality is he hasn’t gotten the most out of the talent he has on defense. His schemes are way too bland for this division with the quarterbacks they have to face twice a year. Can Rodgers be different? There is no way to know. Yet facts are facts. If he’s the one who routinely elevates his defensive linemen to the best of their ability, why can’t he do the same for the entire defense?
Give him a chance.