Former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano will celebrate his one-month anniversary as coach of the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, yet there are still clearly some things about his new job that he hasn’t gotten used to.
“I’ve got so many things coming across my desk right now that are non-football related, I can’t stand it,” said Pagano, who interviewed in Indianapolis the day after the Ravens’ AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots. “This has been a whirlwind. It’s the last thing I ever expected, but it’s coming quick and fast.”
For Pagano, there are new people to get to know, media responsibilities to meet, tape to watch and key evaluations of several Colts, including quarterback Peyton Manning, to be made.
Pagano used the word “process” countless times during his media interviews today at the NFL Scouting Combine in reference to the multitude of decisions that the Colts have to make in regard to Manning, their first overall pick in April’s draft and their own free agents, a group that includes long-time key contributors Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday and Robert Mathis.
But when it comes to scouting and wooing other teams' free agents, Pagano certainly has an in with three Ravens starters who are eligible to hit the open market on March 13. Linebackers Jarret Johnson and Jameel McClain and defensive end Cory Redding are all close Pagano, as are free agent safeties Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski, who had Pagano as a position coach before he was elevated to defensive coordinator last season.
Pagano had joked about targeting some of his former players earlier this offseason, although he toned down that rhetoric a little bit today. Still, it would hardly be surprising if guys like Johnson and McClain followed Pagano to Indianapolis and helped him in transforming the Colts’ defense from a 4-3 to a hybrid 3-4 style that Pagano used in Baltimore.
“It’s a constant process evaluating our own guys [but] once free agency hits, having a personal relationship and knowing guys certainly helps,” Pagano said.
Pagano had nothing but good things to say about his time in Baltimore and he wanted to make sure to thank owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, his former players and the fans. He also said that he plans on leaning on Harbaugh to help aid in his transition.
“I think John being a first-timer four years ago when I came in with him, obviously daily things come at you that you never expect and you’ve never been through,” Pagano said. “Having a chance to see him go through it as a first-timer and all the different things that he exposed us to, he’s a great friend and a confidant and he’ll be a great sounding board going forward.”