It will likely be a bittersweet feeling for Chuck Pagano Sunday when his Chicago Bears take on the Indianapolis Colts Sunday afternoon.
Pagano is now the Bears defensive coordinator, but he coached the Colts from 2012-2017 where he amassed a 53-43 record and won 3 playoff games. Pagano was fired after the 2017 season when the Colts went 4-12. Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012, but he overcame it. His prior health history makes him vulnerable to coronavirus, but he says he is staying safe and healthy.
“The way they got our facility set up (in Chicago), the way we social distance, the way we test, the way we meet, it’s not surprising that we haven’t had issues (with the coronavirus,” said Pagano in a Thursday Zoom call. “You still can’t get let your guard down. This stuff’s real. It’s out there. You got to be smart. You got to be safe.”
Pagano’s wife, Tina, still spends a lot of time in Indianapolis.
“We still got our place there. Our youngest daughter is still living there, so Tina is still spending a lot of time there. It’s been a while since we’ve gone out to eat. We have a lot of home-cooked stuff.”
He reflected on his first game as the coach of the Colts in 2012 where they played the Bears in the season opener and lost 41-21. Aside from the loss, Pagano said he really only remembered one moment that makes him laugh.
“Lovie Smith (Bears coach at the time) challenged something in the first quarter and then I reached into my back pocket. I didn’t feel anything. I thought, ‘Holy s***. I don’t have my red flag.,’ said Pagano.
The red flag is the flag you need to throw if you want to challenge a call on the field. Pagano had an equipment manager run back to the locker room and get the flag.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s matchup with the Colts, Pagano spoke highly of the Colts offensive line.
“It’s one of the best, if not the best units in the National Football League. They play so well together. They’re so well-coached. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge getting to the quarterback,” said Pagano.
Pagano said after all these years, Colts Quarterback Philip Rivers is still productive.
“There’s nothing that he hasn’t seen. He hangs in there. He slides, moves, and keeps his eyes down the field. You’d think at a certain point, they’d start feeling pressure and their eyes will start dropping and looking at the rush. He (Rivers) just doesn’t do that. As funky as that release of his looks, he’s so accurate,” said Pagano.
The Colts are 2-1 and have the #1 defense in the NFL. The Bears are 3-0. Colts general manager Chris Ballard worked in the Bears’ scouting department from 2001-12.
The Colts beat the Bears in Super Bowl 41 29-17.
Kickoff is at 1 pm Sunday.