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Bears hire Pagano as defensive coordinator

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The Bears worked quickly to replace Vic Fangio, announcing Friday night that they have hired Chuck Pagano as their new defensive coordinator.

Pagano, 58, recently spent six seasons as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2012-17, compiling a record of 53-43 in the regular season and 3-3 in the playoffs. He led the Colts to three straight playoff appearances from 2012-14, including AFC South Division titles in 2013 and 2014, and an appearance in the 2014 AFC Championship Game.

Pagano spent the 2018 season working as an NFL consultant. He replaces Vic Fangio, who was hired as head coach of the Denver Broncos on Thursday.

“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 boasts 16 years of NFL coaching experience, Prior to joining the Colts, he spent four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, serving as defensive backs coach from 2008-10 and defensive coordinator in 2011.

A native of Boulder, Colo., Pagano became only the second head coach in NFL history to register at least 11 wins in each of his first three seasons with a team and became the third head coach in Colts history to reach the playoffs in each of his first three years.

In 2013-14, Pagano led the Colts to 6-0 records against AFC South opponents en route to back-to-back division titles. The Colts also recorded 16 straight wins against the AFC South, setting an NFL record for consecutive wins within the division. From 2012-16, the Colts went 23-7 overall against the AFC South, which tied for the best record against a division during that span. The Colts’ dominance also included 33 straight games without consecutive losses from Sept. 9, 2012 to Sept. 7, 2014.

The Colts’ best season under Pagano came in 2014, when he guided the team to 11 wins, capped by an appearance in the AFC Championship Game, the team’s first since 2009. Defensively, the Colts ranked seventh in the AFC against the pass. Safety Mike Adams tied for the NFL lead in takeaways (7), while cornerback Vontae Davis tied for third in the league in passes defensed (18) as the two earned their first career Pro Bowl selections.

Pagano’s first season in 2012 proved to be challenging yet inspirational when he was forced to take a leave of absence just three games into the season after being diagnosed with a curable form of leukemia. Serving as the team’s interim head coach, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians led the Colts to a 9-3 record.

Indianapolis secured a wildcard berth, extending the season for Pagano’s return. He came back after missing 12 weeks and led the Colts to a win over the Texans in their season finale to finish with an 11-5 record.

Pagano’s battle with leukemia led him to form the Chuckstrong Foundation, which has raised more than $4.7 million for continued cancer research.

During his four seasons in Baltimore, Pagano’s defenses allowed the second-fewest points per game and the second-fewest net yards in the NFL. The Ravens also ranked third in the NFL in scoring defense during that span.

In 2011 as coordinator, Pagano’s defensive unit finished third in the NFL in total defense, second against the run and fourth against the pass on their way to an appearance in the AFC Championship Game. The Ravens also led the league in forced fumbles (21) and had the third-most sacks in the NFL (48.0), including a franchise record-tying 9.0 sacks in Week 12 against the 49ers.

Pagano has also worked in the NFL as a defensive backs coach with the Cleveland Browns (2001-04) and Oakland Raiders (2005-06).

Pagano additionally possesses 18 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level, primarily as a defensive assistant at USC (1984-85), Miami (1986 and 1995-2000), Boise State (1987-88), East Carolina (1989 and 1992-94), UNLV (1990-91) and North Carolina (2007).

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