March 08, 2021


Report: Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to retire

Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano reportedly is set to retire.

The 60-year-old former NFL head coach has served as Bears defensive coordinator for two seasons. Pagano was the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2012 to 2017.

The news first was reported by The Athletic. The Bears had not confirmed the report as of Tuesday night.

The Bears brought Pagano to Chicago after former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio left to become the head coach of the Denver Broncos following the 2018 season.

Under Pagano, the 2019 Bears defense ranked eighth in the NFL in yards against (324.1 a game) and fourth in points against (18.6 a game). The Bears were stout against the run and the pass, and they were a top 10 defense on third down.

The Bears still were a solid defensive team in 2020, although maybe not an elite one. They ranked 11th in total yards against (344.9 yards a game) and 14th in points against (23.1 a game). They ranked sixth on third downs and fifth in the red zone.

This marks the first major change for the Bears heading into 2021. There has been much speculation as to the status of general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy. Sources told Shaw Local News Network on Tuesday evening that both Pace and Nagy are expected to be retained.

When Pagano was hired in January 2019, it generally was considered a solid hire to take over what had been an elite Bears defense during the 2018 season. Pagano had spent the previous season out of coaching, but brought with him years of experience as a defensive coach and as a head coach.

With the Colts, he amassed a 53-43 head coaching record during six seasons, which included three playoff appearances.

Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in September 2012 when he was the head coach of the Colts. He took an indefinite leave, and in November of that year doctors announced Pagano was in remission. He did not return to head coaching duties until December. With Bruce Arians serving as interim coach, that 2012 Colts team rallied to finish 11-5 and make the postseason.

It was one of the biggest stories of the 2012 NFL season.

In Chicago in 2019, Pagano was handed the reins to a Bears defense coming off its best season in a decade. He generally had complete control of the defensive side of the ball under Nagy, an offensive-minded head coach who takes a hands-off approach with his defense.

The Bears now will begin the process of finding Pagano’s replacement.

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.