The aftermath of a roller coaster ride of front office decisions looms over Charger's headquarters this week. Just like in a poker game, different moves are done as the odds change, and perhaps this move can prove to be the winning hand for the Chargers. Maybe the most underrated as well as imperative of these, is the swift change at Defensive Coordinator that happened Thursday afternoon. Greg Manusky's short and unimpressive stint in 2011 forced the Charger's hand with the hiring of Linebacker's Coach John Pagano. Pagano, whose name may ring a bell, is the brother of Chuck Pagano, the current Defense of Coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. Pagano has "no where to go but up", he will inherit a group who finished last in the NFL on stopping third down conversions. (96 of 195 3rd downs were converted, or a depressing 49.2% of the time).
Almost every problem that could plague the Charger's defense rose at some point in 2011. Starting corners were benched for rookies, season ending injury to expected impact players (Bob Sanders and Luis Castillo), and under performing veterans all contributed to a step backwards. A side of the ball that forced a pathetic 21 takeaways, lacked play makers and explosion, the unit dropped numerous interception opportunities (Jammer and Cason), and was about as inconsistent as a team could be when it came to rushing the passer. Free Agent additions, Takeo Spikse and Travis Laboy who came with Manusky from San Francisco failed to make any significant contributions on a week to week basis.
However, not all was lost in 2011. Eric Weddle, lived up to his contract and played well enough to earn a pro bowl bid. Donald Butler shined at middle linebacker when many were unsure of his health and ability prior to the start of the campaign. Antwan Barnes lead the Chargers with 11 sacks, clearly exceeding expectation. Young corner, Marcus Gilchrist seemed to show potential to start in the near future as he filled in for a now aging Quentin Jammer.
Those hoping for a Steve Spagnolo and Jeff Fisher as a coordinator and head coach combination will have to wait. The Chargers have elected to stay with in the Franchise. Turner and Pagano understand the strengths of their units, unlike, a Manusky per say. A slight upgrade in the scheme and personal this off season combined with the returning health of some fallen players; should contribute to more turnovers, sacks, pressures, and 3rd down stops! With some of the aforementioned plays, a 2012 playoff run doesn't seem so out of the question.
Is Pagano the right fit?