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Pagano’s Take on Season and What’s to Come
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With the 2013 season now in the history books, we chatted with Defensive Coordinator John Pagano to get his thoughts on how it all transpired. Overall, the stellar finish his defensive unit produced has him excited for big things in 2014.
Here is what he had to say:
Chargers.com: Looking back on the 2013 season, what will you most remember?
Pagano: Good lord, probably the play of our team at the end of the year. Especially how we got better at the end of the year. Our guys started playing together even more, so looking back on that, that was a plus.
Chargers.com: Is there any rhyme or reason why you think the defense began playing better down the stretch?
Pagano: You know, we got a lot of guys back at key positions. Getting Jarret Johnson back and getting a guy like Melvin Ingram back, it allows you to do different things. Then there was the growth of the guys who had been playing together. We were able to get the guys back to go out and play, and that helped us.
Chargers.com: Is there a certain game that you will remember most from this past season?
Pagano: There are many from this past year, but probably the one that stands out was Kansas City to get into the playoffs. That was very important, and our guys fought out a tough win.
Chargers.com: What has your relationship been like with Mike McCoy?
Pagano: I learned a lot of football from an offensive perspective, especially with what teams were trying to do. He helped me in a lot of different areas. And I was impressed with how he led. He is a leader of this team being the head coach, and I thought he did a really good job.
Chargers.com: Eric Weddle made the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career. As his coordinator, how special is it to see him get the recognition he deserves?
Pagano: You’re happy for him, but I thought there were a lot of other guys on the defense that deserved it too. But having a guy like Weddle make it because of his performance and work ethic, it’s easy to see why he’s a Pro Bowl player.
Chargers.com: You mentioned before how important the veteran leaders on this team are. What is your working relationship like with the Weddles and Jarret Johnsons of the world?
Pagano: We work as a group and I lean heavily on those veterans because they’re the guys playing on the field. They see certain things and they have ideas. So you have to listen and you have to be open to listening. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to put your stamp of approval on everything, but listening to those guys and the ideas they have has been good for us.
Chargers.com: Finally, what areas do you personally feel the defense needs to improve heading into 2014?
Pagano: Looking at it right now, I would still say that number one we have to create more turnovers and number two we have to play better in the red zone. Those are important things, and we can’t tackle like we did in the first half of the season. We have to play an entire season like we did toward the end. But I’m excited. I’m excited for the opportunity to have this defense keep getting better and improving. I’m excited about what we did over the second half of the season and we can build off that.”