Late for Work 1/19: Players Excited About Pagano Hire

Plus why Mattison left, more coaching changes may be on horizon and will Bisciotti step in?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 at 9:09 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

When Ravens former Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison decided to take the same position at the University of Michigan, the Ravens quickly announced the promotion of Secondary Coach Chuck Pagano.

Heading into his 28th season of coaching, Pagano is relatively unknown among Ravens fans, but players are well-acquainted with him and appear to be very excited about the news.

“Pagano is well-liked in Ravens locker room,” tweeted MASN’s Dan Kolko. “Source says majority of players would approve of his promotion to defensive coordinator.”

Perhaps nobody knows the new defensive coordinator better than cornerback Fabian Washington, who played for Pagano for a combined five years while in Oakland and Baltimore.

“He believes in his guys,” Washington told Ravens Insider Aaron Wilson. “There’s probably going to be a lot more blitzing. He’s an aggressive guy.”

According to reports, Pagano was considered for the defensive coordinator job two years ago, prior to Mattison being hired. Reports also indicated that the Raiders may have been interested in him for their defensive coordinator opening.

It’s way past overdue,” Washington told Wilson. “He should have been a defensive coordinator already in the NFL. Chuck is one of the best coaches in the league, period.

“I promise you’ll see that next year, whatever scheme the Ravens run. I’m pretty positive it will be pretty much the same thing, but he will definitely put his twist on it.”

Washington explained that Pagano was responsible for calling the Ravens’ third-down plays and “you could bet your bottom dollar” he would correctly predict what opposing offenses would do.

Pagano also has a long history with safety Ed Reed that extends back to Reed’s high school days. Pagano was the secondary coach at the University of Miami in 1996 and traveled to Destrehan High School in an attempt to recruit Reed.

As we know, Pagano was successful in luring Reed to Miami. Under his direction, Reed became an All-American while the two developed a close bond.

Coach Pagano is like a father figure to me,” Reed said in early November. “A lot of my success has been because of the mentality he brought to me. … Coach has watched me evolve from a 17-year-old kid to a 32-year-old man. Even to this day, I look up to him. He has always helped me find a way.”

After a single season of working with Pagano, cornerback Josh Wilson is already convinced of his credentials.

“Chuck’s completely, in my view, a great coach and deserves it,” Wilson told National Football Post. “He knows what he’s doing. Chuck is going to be a great defensive coordinator. It’s not going to be any kind of, ‘Can he get the job done?’

“Everybody knows he can handle it.”

Why Did Mattison Leave?

As PFT.com’s Gregg Rosenthal wrote, sometimes it’s revealed after the fact that a coach on the way out was often “gently nudged to leave.”

“In this case, it appears that Mattison truly wanted to head back to college,” stated Rosenthal.

Mattison and Head Coach John Harbaugh have a tight relationship, but Mattison is also close with Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke. The two worked together under Jack Harbaugh at Western Michigan and under Lloyd Carr at Michigan.

Additionally, Mattison has family in Michigan. His daughter, Lisa, lives in Ann Arbor and is having a baby soon.

More Changes On Horizon?

BaltimoreRavens.com confirmed that teams throughout the league have sought permission to interview other Ravens assistant coaches and have been granted that permission.

The team has not given specifics on who those coaches are, but here are a few of the rumors:

The Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley said there are two teams that have shown interest in Ravens Senior Offensive Assistant Al Saunders. The first is the Oakland Raiders, but the second is unknown.

During the press conference announcing Hue Jackson as the Raiders’ new head coach, Jackson said Saunders isn’t the Raiders offensive coordinator yet, but is a candidate.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Seattle Seahawks are considering Quarterbacks Coach Jim Zorn for their offensive coordinator position, a choice that would be “popular in Seattle’s locker room.”

There are conflicting reports on whether the Cleveland Browns are interested in Zorn. Zorn coached with now Browns President Mike Holmgren in Seattle.

The News-Herald in Northern Ohio reported that Zorn could “be in line for the offensive coordinator position.” But just hours later The Cleveland Plain Dealer said Zorn is not a candidate.

How Labor Uncertainty Could Be Influencing Cameron Decision

The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg opened up his blog saying that his theory is completely speculation and not based on any inside information.

But Van Valkenburg wonders if a lingering labor dispute could be influencing Harbaugh’s decision to keep Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, especially considering the unlikelihood there will be organized team activities this offseason.

That would mean no mini-camps, no passing camps and maybe a shorted training camp before the start of the 2011 season, assuming an agreement will be reached in time for regular-season games to be played.

“If the Ravens wanted to install a new offensive system, they’d have a hell of a time cramming it into three weeks of training camp,” wrote Van Valkenburg. “With so many free agents, and only so much cap space, it’s going to be hard enough just to integrate new pieces.

“Asking the Ravens offensive players to learn new terminology and a series of entirely new formations and base packages is simply too much to cram into a short time period. If you think the Ravens offense was inconsistent this year, imagine what a potential mess [it] might be with less time to practice plus unfamiliar schemes.”

What Are The Chances Of Bisciotti Stepping In?

In a question and answer session, a fan asked the Sun’s Ken Murray what the chances are that Owner Steve Bisciotti steps in and tells Harbaugh that Cameron will be re-assigned?

Murray said that if enough fans express their displeasure, Bisciotti could listen and take action. But Murray added that Bisciotti will be very interested in General Manager Ozzie Newsome’s opinion on the situation.

“If Ozzie feels Cam needs to be replaced, he’d make that recommendation and it’d carry a lot of weight,” wrote Murray. “If Ozzie feels [the offensive troubles are] more on Flacco and not Cam, then I expect Cam to stay.”

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