Pagano’s Aggressiveness Already Felt

The Ravens’ new defensive coordinator is being aggressive in his play-calling.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Categories: 2011 Training Camp, Ryan Mink

Chuck Pagano likes to start his meetings with a joke.

The other day, defensive end Cory Redding said Pagano brought the room down with one about Jarret Johnson, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs going to heaven for their judgment day. Unfortunately, it’s long and not exactly fit to print.

But one thing is blatantly in the open; the Ravens’ new defensive coordinator is infusing his colorful personality into Baltimore’s storied unit.

It’s been just over a week since players returned to the team’s training facility and they already see changes under Pagano, who replaced Greg Mattison after he departed for the University of Michigan in late January.

“He keeps it real loose, cracks more jokes than we do,” Redding said.  “But he’s focused, knows his stuff in and out. Everybody responds to him really well. You can tell he has that great player-coach personality with the guys. That can go a long way, man.”

Chuck Pagano is Looking to ‘Dominate’ Opponents
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Immediately after being hired, the Ravens’ former secondary coach showed his fire by proclaiming that he was going to be aggressive with his play-calling.

The Ravens aren’t going to give away any secrets, but players unabashedly said Pagano is following through on his early forecasts.

“He’s not keeping the leash on the boys, I’ll tell you that,” Redding said. “He’s letting the dogs loose and he’s letting us hunt. And that’s really good.”

Johnson said Baltimore’s philosophy hasn’t changed, but the play-calling has.

“There are some things here and there [where] you can definitely see his influence, but just what he calls and when. I mean, he’s definitely very aggressive,” the veteran outside linebacker said.

“I really like his mentality, and it’s been really good so far.”

Pagano is known for meticulously breaking down the game, giving his players scads of useful information during the week to have at their disposal. He called it loading up a player’s toolbox.

When it comes to the game, players can use the tools at their disposal, but aren’t “ankle-weighted” into playing a certain way.

“He’s like, ‘When you’re out there between the lines, the game is yours,’” Redding said. “‘You’ve got all the checks, you’ve got all the calls – make them. I’ll give you the information, but when you’re out there, it’s your game, you do whatever you want with it.’”

“We give them a lot of latitude and a lot of flexibility,” Pagano added. “It doesn’t mean they’re just out there playing cat ball. They play within the framework of the defense, but at the same time, we want them out there making plays.”

It all could help the Ravens’ defense be even more dynamic.

Baltimore ranked eighth in the league in interceptions last year with 19, boosted by safety Ed Reed’s league-leading eight. They were tied for 12th in the NFL with 15 forced fumbles.

The Ravens defense was third in the league in points allowed per game (16.9) and 10th in total defense (318.9 yards per game).

Pagano is setting the bar even higher.

He said he wants opposing teams to feel like there’s extra players on the field when they watch tape of the Ravens defense. That’s the way it looked in practice Wednesday, as the defense got pressure seemingly from every angle and ruled the day in 11-on-11 drills.

Pagano’s sideline was exploding with energy, with booms of whoops from the likes of Suggs and linebacker Ray Lewis.

“[We] can just dominate people,” Pagano said. “When we walk out of that tunnel or out of that locker room, we expect to shut people out and just play great defense.”

Pagano may remind some fans of another former Ravens defensive coordinator – Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan. But he’s his own coach.

“I think coach [Pagano] has his own swag to him,” Suggs said before cracking up the media. “I think this is our first Italian defensive coordinator, so it’s going to be fun.”

“I would say he’s more toward Rex’s style – a little more emotional probably,” Johnson said.

“Coach Mattison always kept a level head. You know Rex would get [ticked] off and bring the house. And I think [Pagano] would be somewhere in the middle. But his coaching knowledge and just the way you relate to him, it’s awesome.”

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