After spending a season out of football, Chuck Pagano is back in the NFL.
The Chicago Bears announced they hired Pagano as their defensive coordinator Friday. Pagano replaces Vic Fangio, who left the Bears to become the head coach of the Denver Broncos.
"We are excited to add Chuck to our staff as defensive coordinator," Bears head coach Matt Nagy said in a statement. "He has successful experience at many different levels in this league and he is a great teacher with an aggressive mentality that fits our style of football. He is a man of high character and has a passion for the game that will no doubt add to the culture we have already started building at Halas Hall."
Pagano was the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2012-2017, earning 11-5 finishes in three straight seasons (though he was absent due to a battle with leukemia in 2012) before consecutive 8-8 seasons and a 4-12 mark (without quarterback Andrew Luck) that resulted in a pink slip. Prior to his time with the Colts, Pagano was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore in 2011.
Pagano was mentioned by Bruce Arians as a candidate he might seek out for his hypothetical staff months before Arians was eventually hired by Tampa Bay (he hired Todd Bowles to be his defensive coordinator instead). As head coach of the Colts, his team's defenses never ranked any better than 20th in yards allowed, but finished ninth in points allowed in 2013.
Pagano hasn't filled a defensive coordinator role since 2011, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in Chicago. He's walking into an excellent situation with the Bears, who boasted one of the league's best defenses and features a formidable edge-rushing duo in Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd.