Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was a standout linebacker in the NFL. So was his defensive coordinator, Ken Norton, Jr.
Both know the ins and outs of what makes a successful defense. Yet this offseason, the Raiders sought more expertise from an unlikely source: a former longtime foe.
John Pagano, who for the past five seasons was the defensive coordinator of the Chargers, was hired by Oakland to be assistant coach/defense, a move Pagano says will give Del Rio and Norton “another set of eyes.”
In an interview with a San Diego radio station this week, Pagano says he’ll be able to give the Raiders coaching staff “a different perspective.”
“It’s always a win-win when you get somebody new, especially someone that’s in the same division that you play twice a year,” Pagano said. “So it’s been good. It’s been fun.”
By hiring Pagano, the Raiders will be able to tap his mind about what he’s seen of both the Raiders’ offense and defense from across the field. Pagano says his job will be to fit into what the team is already doing, but offer some fresh ideas and help with communication and implementation.
Last year, the Raiders ranked 26th in the NFL in total defense. They know that to move up into the ranks of AFC title contenders, they’ll have to get better. Pagano could help. He also believes it will be a great learning experience for him.
“You learn how guys do things differently, and you keep growing in this process,” he said. “I think the big thing is to help and keep improving our communication as a defense. I know that was one of the first responsibilities coming in here was to be able to help in those things, and be able to listen and hear.”