On Monday the Oakland Raiders announced the hiring of former San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano to be their assistant head coach on defense.
Pagano becomes the latest shuffle in the Raiders coaching staff this offseason, as they also made some changes on offseason, letting offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave go and promoting quarterbacks coach Todd Downing to that position.
While there was talk about defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. not returning next season, it appears he will remain with the team and he and Pagano will work along side each other.
Pagano will be entering his 22nd season as an NFL head coach, with the last 15 coming with the Chargers. He began his NFL career as a defensive assistant in 1996 with the New Orleans Saints. He also had a short stint with the Indianapolis Colts from 1998-2001 before becoming a defensive assistant for the Chargers in 2002. He was then promoted to assistant linebackers coach, then outside linebackers coach, and finally head linebackers coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012.
The Chargers defense was middle-of-the-pack in 2016, as they were hurt by some key injuries. They ranked 10th against the rush and 20th against the pass, ranking 16th out of 32 teams in total yards allowed at 347.1 yards per game.
Pagano’s knowledge will help a Raiders defense that struggled in 2016, ranking 26th in total yards at 371.5 per game. He will particularly help the Raiders young linebackers, as it is unlikely the team re-signs veteran Malcolm Smith.
The 49-year-old Pagano previously worked with Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio in 1997 on the Saints coaching staff.