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Press Conference Transcript - Ravens Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano


Head Coach John Harbaugh's opening statement:

"OK, thanks for coming, and this is a great day. Thanks for coming (looking at LB Jarret Johnson, DT Haloti Ngata and S Haruki Nakamura in the front row). Hey, all right… You guys got some questions? (laughter) That says something right there. But we're here to introduce Chuck Pagano as the new defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, and we're going to do that with great pride. Greg Mattison, I thought, did a great job the past two years as the defensive coordinator and before that as a linebacker coach. Greg was a big part – I know Chuck would agree with this – just a tremendous asset and huge part of the accomplishments that we've had. [He] had great relationships with the players. You know, we love Greg Mattison, and he had an opportunity to follow his family after his family has been following him all these years in his coaching profession, at this stage of his career, and go back to Michigan with a guy that we all worked together [with in Brady Hoke]. The three of us were together at Western Michigan many years ago, and we're all great friends. And it's an opportunity for him to change the pace a little bit, get back into college and be with his family a little bit more. So, we're proud of what he did and we're happy for him, and we kind of rejoiced in that the last couple days. And then the opportunity to move forward [with the Ravens' vacant position]… It was an easy choice. It was quick. It's something that, I guess, as a head coach you think about these things when these opportunities are going to happen, and what gives you a chance to be the best you can possibly be, and I think we've built just a tremendous defensive staff. I think our players would agree with that. We get in our meetings, and I sit in the back of that room and I watch these guys work. There can't be a better defensive staff in football, anywhere. And our guys are sitting right here: [linebackers coach] Dean Pees is sitting right here, and [defensive line coach] Clarence Brooks is sitting right here, and [outside linebackers coach] Ted Monachino is sitting right here [and defensive assistant/secondary coach] Roy Anderson. We just have a great group of guys; I know Chuck agrees with that. And Chuck has done a phenomenal job of coaching football here for the last three years. I've known Chuck on and off for 20-some years, and I've always just admired what he's done and the way he's done it. Now to work with him for these three years closely and see how he does it, I just have great admiration and respect for him. He's built… He's been instrumental in building this defense, and the job he's done with that secondary back there, I think, speaks for itself. And Chuck's a great secondary coach, but he's not just a secondary coach; he's a great football coach. He's a great defensive mind. He understands the front end, the back end, he understands the pressure package, he understands the techniques of all the positions. And he's more than ready to be really successful at this job. So, I'm really excited to introduce Chuck, and I think it's… We've been really great on defense, and it's obviously a great challenge and big shoes to fill and all that stuff, but we're going to get even better on defense under Chuck's guidance. So, Chuck Pagano…"

Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano's opening statement:

"Thank you. It's obviously kind of a bittersweet day for me – bitter in the fact that [I'm] losing a great friend and a mentor in Greg Mattison. I can't thank him enough, first and foremost, for what he's done for me and my career and my family. And he made a decision… What he told me was for 37 years – you know, all of us have families – and usually in coaching when you change jobs… We get up, we grab our briefcase, we put a couple sport coats in a [suitcase], couple T-shirts, couple things to go recruiting or go here, or go there, and [family members] get left behind. And they've got to finish school. And they've got to handle the kids. And they've got to do all that stuff. And so, I always admired [Greg], OK, but even more today, because he said, 'You know what? For 37 years, I've been leaving them behind.' And they sell the house, and they finish the school with the kids. And then eventually, when the school is over and this, that and the other, they end up meeting you six months down the road, once you have your home. He said, 'You know what? I've got a chance now to do something and give something back to them for all these years of support.' And that to me just speaks volumes, above anything else he did for this organization. That being said, I can't tell you how excited I am for this opportunity. I've spent 27 years… Not as many as Dean [Pees] who's got double that on me. It doesn't look it, but he does. He's got, I think, 54 [years of coaching] in he said. But I've spent 27 years preparing for this opportunity and I feel like, obviously, I'm at the best organization in the National Football League. I work for the best owner in the National Football League in Steve Bisciotti. Our personnel department speaks for itself. We've got three [players] up here that obviously [executive vice president/general manager] Ozzie Newsome and [director of player personnel] Eric DeCosta and everybody from top to bottom in that department do a phenomenal job of making sure that we have the resources on both sides of the football and special teams to go out and win football games. And then above all, I'm working for the best head football coach in the National Football League. And it's an honor to be sitting here today. It's an honor to be able to stand up in front of these men and lead these men, because when you talk about Ravens football – and I'm specifically talking about Ravens defense – it all starts with these guys. And it starts with the men in the back of the room* that John talked about – the coaches and the players. And this is not a one-man show by any means. The buck's got to stop somewhere, but collectively, collectively, we will take a hard look at ourselves inside and out, like you always do at the end of the year, and we will take a close look at where we were really, really good, and the things we need to improve on. And there [are] a lot of things up in the air with these guys. We'll make sure that if they aren't back here when they're supposed to be back here, they're somewhere working out and studying football. That's probably a pipe dream maybe, I don't know. *(laughter) But, they'll do it. But it's because of guys like Dean and Clarence and Ted and Roy and these players that make this a great opportunity for me, and an easy one. And I'm just humbled and honored to be here today and have this opportunity."

Is there a special edge for a secondary coach to become a defensive coordinator?

(PAGANO) *"Not necessarily. It helps, obviously, but I think anybody will tell you, whether they're specialty was defensive line or linebackers or secondary – Dean spent a lot of time, a lot of years, coaching defense and running things, and spent a lot of time in the back end – you're always paying attention. You always know what the ultimate goal is, and so you always understand – and want to understand – what's going on up front. Like I tell the guys in the back end, if Haloti – which very seldom happens – gets reached or cut off… I think [that's happened] maybe twice in your career so far, and I only say two because he's a lot bigger than me. *(laughter) *We always say in the back end, if that happens, it may cost you an extra yard or two because a linebacker will scrape over the top; Jarret [Johnson] will cover up for him, and we'll get it down. If a linebacker hits the wrong gap on a blitz or gets cut off by a lineman that doesn't get taken care of at the second level, a secondary guy will come up and make the tackle and get him on the ground. But if we make a mistake in the back end, the first thing you usually see is the referee doing this (signaling for a touchdown)*, and then some crazy secondary coach on the sideline doing something else. *(laughter) *It's obviously a very important piece to the puzzle, but no more important than the others."

Tell us about your philosophy on defense and whether you are more like former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan or Greg Mattison…

*(PAGANO) *"This philosophy… 'My' philosophy or 'this' philosophy… This hasn't changed, and it [isn't] going to change. They've been playing great defense here long before any of us got here, and they'll be playing great defense long after I'm gone and whoever else they name [coordinator after me]. They've always been an attacking, swarming, tough, physical, hard-nosed group of men. They've got great passion, just like our coaches do, [and] just like I have for this game. [They've got] great respect for this game. They understand that it's not their right, but a privilege to be at this level and play football at this level and to coach at this level. And so, my philosophy is their philosophy: Let's go out and wreak havoc and play Ravens defense just the way that they've played for many, many years around here."

Can you talk about the concept of promoting from within the organization rather than looking around the league for other candidates?

*(HARBAUGH) *"You can do it either way, and there are probably times to do it one way or the other. To me, I'd rather… I think continuity is critical. I think when you can promote from within, so to speak, you give guys an opportunity right here. That is what you do. Like Chuck was saying, these [players] right here, and all the guys on our defensive side, have played great football for a lot of years. And not just them – the guys that came before them who taught them, and the coaches, same thing. And you build on that. We talk about this all the time: It's not a 'Rex' defense, it's not a 'Greg' defense, it's not a 'John,' it's not a 'Chuck.' It's not an anybody. It's a Ravens' defense. We believe in team around here, and it starts with the players. I know Greg made that point over and over again. It starts with the players, and Chuck just said it. That's what great football is all about. We think we have a great system, but that's going to evolve and grow. It's changed over the last two years. It's evolved and grown [with] the ideas that Chuck and Greg and Dean [Pees], and all of our guys – Clarence – all of our guys have had. So, scheme-wise, stuff comes and goes and is in and out, but the foundation of the defense is in place. The structure of the defense is basically the same, but the personality of the defense – the players playing the defense – that's never going to change. I think when you promote from within – guys like Chuck – they understand that. They've been part of that, and now, we continue to grow and get better."

Is there anything new with the speculation that senior offensive assistant Al Saunders is talking to the Raiders about a position?

*(HARBAUGH) *"As far as Al, Oakland sent in a request to talk to Al, and we OK'd it. We'll just have to see what happens. Obviously, you never want to lose really good coaches. Al Saunders is a great coach, and he's a great man, too. He's tremendous, and he's been huge for us. But, you don't want to deny guys opportunities either. So, we'll just have to see where that goes."

CB Fabian Washington said that he thinks you will have a defensive scheme that blitzes a lot and is aggressive on third down. What is your philosophy on blitz packages?

(PAGANO) "I've always been around defenses that have been attacking defenses, and there's a time and a place. I know this guy (Harbaugh) is an aggressive guy and comes from an aggressive philosophy, and I know these guys like to play that way. And so, we're going to be aggressive. When it's time to be aggressive, we'll be aggressive. It's funny that Fabian said that because the old man always mandated that you can never blitz, so I don't know where he got that from. *(laughter) *But anyway, we're going to be aggressive."


Are you an upstairs coordinator or a downstairs coordinator during games?

*(PAGANO) *"I'm pretty much a hands-on guy. I understand that being in the box and getting away from the action, there's a certain calmness to that. But, I'm not really a calm-type of guy, and I think these guys will tell you that. I try to do my best to maintain my composure, and I'm really going to have to do that now. *(laughter) *I like being down in the fray and in the trenches, so to speak, with these guys fighting the fight and going through the ebbs and flows and the ups and downs of what goes on down there on the sidelines. So, I would have to say that I'm going to be down."

(HARBAUGH) *"It's going to be fun. These guys are laughing right over here. If you guys could ever… Maybe they'll wire up coaches' headsets one of these days. Maybe they shouldn't do that. *(laughter) Dick [Cass, team president] is laughing over there. Chuck is an emotional, enthusiastic guy. Being on the headsets with Chuck – and I'm about the same – and we had Greg in the mix, and you've got our guys Dean and Clarence... We all laugh, but that's who we are; that's who our players are. We'll be down there getting after each other and hugging each other and screaming at each other. That's how you build something special. He's the perfect guy for the job because these [players], they love him, they respect him. His personality is going to be reflected in the way we play defense, and [he'll] take us to places that we haven't been yet. I'm so excited about it."

Do you have anybody in mind for a secondary coach to replace Pagano?

*(HARBAUGH) *"We're going to find a great one. We'll find a great one out there. I will say this: Roy Anderson is a young coach, up-and-coming coach. He will continue to work with the secondary. We'll figure out how we work that right now by adding a coach. We're going to get the very best coach who fits us the best way we can – fits these guys the best way we can. But, I want to say Roy is a tremendous young coach [and is] going to be a big part of that."

Does being the Ravens' defensive coordinator come with a lot of pressure because you're taking over a great defense and it's perceived around the league as a stepping stone to a head coach position?

*(PAGANO) *"I think it's just whatever pressure you put on yourself. I count on the men in the room – our players, our coaching staff, Ozzie, Eric, John, everybody. I just know that we've got great players, and we've got great coaches, and we've got guys that prepare like no other men in the National Football League. And so, yeah, with the title and the guys that have done this before me, the expectations are really, really high. And I've always had high expectations for myself. It's a challenge that I can't wait to get started on. I've been waiting a long time for this opportunity."

Is there any pressure knowing that the Ravens hold a high standard of defense?

*(PAGANO) *"Yeah. Again, they've set that standard for over a decade. We've been top-three in scoring defense for the last three years. There [are] a ton of statistical categories that you can look at that we've been in the top 5 and the top 10 over the last 10 years. Again, I look forward to that challenge. We're going to do it together. As long as I've got guys like these three [players] sitting at the front of this room and the coaching staff that Coach Harbaugh has put together, I'm going to sleep good at night."

A lot of players in the secondary will be free agents this offseason. Is there any lobbying to try to get them to come back?

*(PAGANO) *"I know that we're in great hands with everybody in this organization and with our personnel department. I can't speak, again, highly enough about Ozzie and Eric and the money crunchers, Dick. They're going to make sure... They understand what it takes, and they understand what we need, and they will take great care of us."

Greg Mattison's biggest source of pride was stopping the run and physicality on defense. Do you have a benchmark?

(PAGANO) *"My first coaching job was in 1984 at Southern Cal, and then I was fortunate enough to go to the University of Miami and work for a guy by the name of Jimmy Johnson. And, I grew up on the sidelines – my dad was a coach for over 30 years – and I've been hearing about stopping the run my whole life. You've got to be able to run the football, and you have to be able to stop the run to have a chance at any level, especially this level. So, it's always our top priority. You can ask these guys: The first thing [when] we go in to [meetings]… And it isn't about, 'Hey, we've got to cover this guy, we've got to cover that guy.' As a secondary coach, you're thinking, 'OK, here we go again. A lot of Cover 1, guys.' Our Cover 0… This is our signal for zero. *(Shrugs shoulders and throws his hands in the air.) (laughter) So, stopping the run is top priority, because if you can't stop the run, then you're in a bunch of second-and-4s, second-and-3s, second-and-2s, and the call sheet is not big enough. You don't have a box for that. You've got a box for second-and-10, second-and-7 and third-and-15 and third-and-10; you've got a lot of calls. But there aren't many calls for… It's like [with] offensive guys: Do you have a call for third-and-18? So, that's going to be paramount. We'll continue to stop the run."

Where does this defense need to improve most to get to the Super Bowl?

*(PAGANO) *"We've got a philosophy of, no matter what the situation is, no matter how we go out there, it's our job to go out there and put out the fire and get off the field. I think No. 1, [we must improve] in crunch time. We've got to get better in crunch time. As coaches – I'm talking myself – and as a defensive unit, we all know that. Just going back to the last ballgame, there's a third-and-10 and a third-and-forever… You've got to get off the field. Again, it doesn't matter what the situation is. Whether you're at home, whether you're on the road, [whether] there's a minute, 30 [seconds left], [whether] there's 50 seconds left in the game, [whether] they've got two timeouts – it doesn't matter. We have to finish. We have to learn how to finish games as a football team. And as a defense, if it's our job – no matter what the situation is – to go out there and put the fire out and get off the field and win a game, that's what we're going to do. And that's first and foremost with us. We're going to take a close look at end of half, end of games, crunch time, fourth quarter, finishing."

There had been some speculation before this all went down that you might be an option to go out to Oakland and join Hue Jackson. Had you had any discussions about joining the Raiders?

(PAGANO) *"I had a great experience, or sentence… Well, I can't say sentence. Sentence, a two-year sentence in Oakland… *(laughter) Congratulations to Hue Jackson. It's well-deserved, and he will earn every cent that they pay him. It won't be much, but he will earn every nickel. But I had a great experience out there, and two years was plenty. So, I'll just leave it at that." (laughter)

You'll probably be Ray Lewis's last defensive coordinator. How much does he still have in the tank, and what's it like lining up on Sundays with him on your side?

*(PAGANO) *"I don't know. Where do you begin? Give me a guess, how many snaps… When you say, 'How much does he have left in the tank,' how many snaps do you think he played this year?"

Reporter answers: *"900?"*

(PAGANO) "1,111. Right, Dean?"

(PEES) *"1,111."*


Reporter asks: *"How many?"*


(PAGANO) "1,111 snaps. He missed, what, five plays?"

(PEES) *"Five plays all year."*


(PAGANO) "And we chewed him out when he came out for that, for missing five plays. And I give credit to all these guys, and they will be the first to tell you that [if] you stay in this league and you play at the level that he's played at for 15 years, because of your due diligence in the weight room in the offseason, watching tape and taking care of yourself… He's taken great care of his body, and he understands that his body is his earning power and what's made him. And he also understands… There is not a more passionate guy… Standing next to Ray Lewis and just knowing that you're going to war with him and guys like [Jarret Johnson] and Haruki and Haloti – the three that are here – it's a very, very comforting feeling. When he got up in this team meeting the other day, we're all sitting in here and Coach [Harbaugh] had his final remarks and talked about the last game and where we're moving and where we're headed and moving forward. Coach said, 'Anybody got anything?' And Ray… Let me go back to three years ago when I first got here: [In] my first team meeting, a guy walked through the door – God rest his soul – Steve McNair walked in and retired. I said, 'Great, glad I came here.' (laughter) And then the next day, J.O. [Jonathan Ogden] came in and retired. I said, 'Even better. We're off to a nice start, right?' I felt bad; I wonder how [John] felt. (laughter) Ray said [on Monday], 'Can I say something?' And I know everybody's heart probably dropped, coming off the heels of that disappointing [loss]. There wasn't a more disappointing loss, for any man in this room and on this team, than that last one. You don't have any idea when you went in that locker room and you looked in the eyes of these men of how they felt and what they had poured into this season, only to be set back again. But, when he got up, and I said, 'Oh, here we go.' I said, 'Clarence, oh please dear God, don't let this man retire.' And not knowing anything about why I'm sitting here today, just, 'Please don't let him retire.' He's a great one."

With the pending labor issues, does this change a little bit of what a new coordinator has to do between now and then?

(PAGANO) "You know what? If it was anywhere else and you were going to have to go and implement a new system and the terminology and the fronts and coverages and the blitz packages – whether it be a fire zone, a man pressure, a zero pressure – if you had to go in and implement a whole new scheme, I'd be scared to death. Because if you don't have these guys in the offseason and during OTAs and minicamp and so forth, and you're talking about a potential of a group of men coming in two weeks prior to your opener – I don't know if that'll happen or not – but if that happens, we're in great shape, because anyone of these three guys could get up here today, along with the rest of the coaches in our room, and put the package in. That's the beauty of Ravens defense and being in this situation that I'm in. Things haven't… We've tweaked things, and this thing has John's flavor in it, and it'll have a little bit of mine and mostly these guys', these players. They've been very, very good over the years here because of continuity. There's been guys walk out of the door and have opportunities and move on, which is great for them. But the thing that hasn't changed is the system, for the most part. So, I feel very, very confident that no matter what happens and how much time we have with these guys in the offseason, they've already agreed that whatever the labor agreement is and whatever we can do, they've already agreed that they're going to get together in Florida twice a month – it's a good reason to vacation – and they're going to go through their own set of OTAs for us. So, we'll be in good shape. Did you guys know that? (laughter) I'm just kidding."

What is your relationship with Ed Reed, and do you expect him to be back?

(PAGANO) "My relationship with Ed Reed is pretty good. I've known him since he was 17 years old when I dragged him into a biology lab and made sure all the Bunsen burners were off and talked him out of going to Tulane and coming to Miami, along with the help of Curtis Johnson, who actually is the receivers coach at the New Orleans Saints. It was Curtis's area, and he was the primary recruiter. I was the secondary coach, so I eventually went out and visited all the defensive backs. Ed is… Obviously, it's been a tough year for a lot of reasons. But Ed is a strong, strong man, and he's got a strong faith, and he's got a strong family, and he's got a strong family right here in Baltimore, and he's got a ton of support. He's just a warrior, and he's a great leader. He'll go down as one of the all-timers to ever play this game."

How much did your time as the defensive coordinator at North Carolina help you in accepting this position?

(PAGANO) "Just calling the game and having that experience obviously will help. When you talk about… The way that things were structured around here and set up, and the way that Coach Mattison had things set up… Every one of these guys… Everybody's got their expertise in their areas. Clarence Brooks, by far, is the very best defensive line coach in the National Football League, and just ask his players. Dean Pees… Ask the guys about Dean Pees, Ted Monachino and Roy and the rest of the guys that are here and are going to be here. Every one of us has had an opportunity to stand before these guys and talk about their areas, so we've all had opportunities, in a way, to have our own stamp on this defense. So, having the opportunity to do that for a season… I did call one other game when a guy left the University of Miami. We played a national championship game against Florida. I wish [Greg Mattison] was here. *(laughter) *We did win that game, and it was against Steve Spurrier. It'll help. But again, to me, the calls are on the sheet and our guys always say, 'Get us the call. Just get a call in. There's not a bad call.' And the reason there's not a bad call is because they're going to make it right, so it doesn't matter. So it's my job, and our job as a defensive staff, to formulate a game plan and make sure they have the call before the quarterback steps under center and snaps the football."

Can you update us on any coaching possibilities with Jim Zorn?

(HARBAUGH) "I don't have any information on that – nothing that I'm aware of other than the media reports that you've read."


Below are several quotes from Ravens players regarding new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano:

LB Ray Lewis

"I really have had a truly personal relationship with Chuck, not only from when he got here, but even before because of our ties to the "U" [University of Miami]. Even though he didn't coach me, I have known what kind of man and coach he is for a while now. He has an extreme knowledge of the game, and the way he communicates that with his players and fellow coaches is amazing.

"You have to respect how he studies opponents and how he prepares for the task at hand each week. He is truly a pure players' coach. He is a man's man, and there is nothing that I wouldn't do for him. I am excited to see what we can do as a defense and as a team leading into next season. Here we go."

DT Haloti Ngata

"I am really excited for Chuck and for our defense. I know he is a great fit for us. He has been around, he knows us as players, and he understands the defense well. He will set players up to succeed and let us go out and play.

"I remember earlier this year when he ran our pre-game defensive meeting. He did a tremendous job of preparation and got us really fired up for the game. I know he can do it game in and game out next year."

S Ed Reed

"Chuck will do everything he can to make sure the defense is prepared for each practice and every game. The time and effort he puts in and what he will sacrifice will be more than a championship-caliber.

"I believe his best coaching quality is working with the other coaches and players around him. Just like Coach [Greg] Mattison, Chuck will get input from everyone, and that will help him be the best coordinator he can be and us be the best defense we can be."

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