Late For Work 1/26: Will Any Players, Coaches Follow Pagano To Indy?

Pagano’s exit could affect Cam, defensive swagger. NFL won’t investigate scoreboard-gate.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, January 26th, 2012 at 9:21 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Will Any Players, Coaches Follow Pagano To Indy?

Of course the Ravens are tasked with filling Chuck Pagano’s shoes now that he has taken the head-coaching job in Indianapolis.

But the domino effect from his departure could reach beyond a search for a new defensive coordinator.

Currently, there are two internal candidates pundits could realistically see being promoted to the opening: Linebackers Coach Dean Pees and Defensive Line Coach Clarence Brooks.

Linebacker Jarret Johnson told The Baltimore Sun, “We wouldn’t bat an eye if one of them stepped in.”

But will Johnson himself be in Baltimore next year?

That’s where the domino effect begins.

Would any Ravens player set to become a free agent follow Pagano to Indy? Or how about Ravens assistants?

You remember the story of Rex Ryan sitting in Bart Scott’s driveway, waiting for the clock to strike midnight to officially open free-agency doors in 2009? Ryan was able to recruit the prized free agent, and former Ravens linebacker. The two eventually went on together to build the foundation of the New York Jets defense.

It wouldn’t be surprising if something similar happened with Pagano and one of the many Ravens defensive players set to become a free agent this offseason.

Johnson, who will become one of those free agents in March, said earlier this week that he would like to return to the Ravens, but understands the business of the NFL and knows there’s a possibility he could play elsewhere next season.

“Johnson and Jameel McClain are among the Ravens who spoke out today in support of Pagano,” wrote The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. “That’s fitting too because both are free agents who I’m sure wouldn’t mind playing under Pagano again. I’m not saying that Johnson and McClain – or other Ravens’ defensive unrestricted free agents like Haruki Nakamura, Cory Redding, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Tom Zbikowski – are intent on leaving the Ravens.  But the Ravens can’t sign everybody and the Colts need all the defensive help that they can get.”

Beyond the players, there is also a question about whether some of the Ravens coaching staff could leave for Indy too.

“It’s entirely possible that the Ravens have some sort of agreement with Pagano that he can’t raid their coaching staff to fill his,” wrote Zrebiec. “But it’s also hard to prevent certain coaches from leaving, especially if they are being offered promotions in other places. It will be interesting to see if the Ravens lose anybody to the Colts.”

Effects On Cam, Defensive Swagger

Even before the news broke about Pagano leaving, many outsiders were already saying they think Cam Cameron and the Ravens will agree to a new contract.

Could losing a defensive coordinator make Cameron’s return more likely?

“There obviously is a school of thought that a team with annual Super Bowl aspirations might not want to usher in two new coordinators because that’s too much change for a team that was 25 seconds away from going to the Super Bowl,” wrote Zrebiec. “However, my general feeling is that Pagano’s departure has no bearing on Cameron’s situation. Perhaps, I’m wrong.”

Additionally, many believed one potential replacement for Cameron – if he and the Ravens did decide to part ways – was Hue Jackson, the Raiders’ former head coach and the Ravens’ former quarterbacks coach.

But Pagano could also be interested in Jackson as his offensive coordinator. The two knew each other while working together on the Ravens staff.

“Jackson is already being mentioned as a front-runner to be Pagano’s offensive coordinator in Indianapolis, where he’d likely get the opportunity to mentor Andrew Luck,” wrote Zrebiec. “Jackson, who was Joe Flacco’s quarterback coach here and has a very close relationship with him, is also believed to be a top candidate to be the Ravens’ next offensive coordinator if they decide to let Cameron go.” 

And then there’s one other thing that needs to be replaced … swagger.

Under Pagano, the defense went from the league’s 10th-ranked unit to the third-ranked. The Ravens notched an AFC-best 48 sacks in 2011, which was far better from a team record-low 27 the year before.

Pagano brought back the swagger to a Ravens defense that had lost its way,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

“Whoever it is, the new coordinator can’t allow the aggressiveness on defense to leave with Pagano, who wasn’t afraid to blitz linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks. Under Pagano, the Ravens’ defense played like the one of old.”

Of course, the Ravens have been down this road before. They’ve continued to play at a high level after they went from Marvin Lewis to Mike Nolan to Rex Ryan.

But Hensley said this time is different because there is “uneasiness” with the dip in production prior to Pagano’s one-year stint.

“The Ravens’ challenge isn’t finding another defensive coordinator,” wrote Henley. “They have to find another risk-taker.”

NFL Won’t Investigate Scoreboard-Gate

The league is not investigating the scoreboard discrepancy at Gillette Stadium during the Ravens’ AFC championship loss.

The boards showed the wrong down and distance on three different plays during the Ravens’ final series leading up to Billy Cundiff’s 32-yard missed field goal.

A source close to the situation told the Baltimore Sun that the league hasn’t received a complaint from the Ravens. Additionally, the NFL’s operations crew didn’t notice anything that would warrant an investigation.

That sounds about right because, as Head Coach John Harbaugh said yesterday, the scoreboard was a “not a factor.”

Lewis’ Postgame Speech Inspiring Many

Moments after the Ravens suffered one of the most heart-breaking losses in franchise history, linebacker Ray Lewis delivered a rousing speech that helped remind his teammates of a much bigger picture.

Ray Lewis’ Speech

People around the web have watched his speech, giving them a small glimpse of why Lewis is an integral part of the Ravens.

USA Today’s Nate Davis: “If you’ve ever wondered what the big deal is about Ravens LB Ray Lewis – as if it wasn’t evident by his 16 sterling seasons as the heart of Baltimore’s defense – take a look at his locker room speech.”

CBSSports.com’s Ryan Wilson: “Lewis, who has been this team’s leader since he was drafted in 1996, didn’t bemoan his fate or call out his underperforming teammates. Instead, he came to their defense during his postgame interview. And before that, but shortly after the season’s outcome had been decided, he gave an impassioned speech that helped put things in perspective. Lewis might’ve been let down but he sounds like he’s at peace with whatever life may bring. There’s a lesson in there somewhere for these folks.”

PFT.com’s Michael David Smith: “It was the kind of inspirational message that shows why Lewis has long been viewed not only as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history but also as one of the greatest team leaders in NFL history.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter: “Does this not sum up Ray Lewis or what?”

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