John Pagano talks with his brother, Indianapolis Head Coach Chuck Pagano, regularly as the two are extremely close. But in the days leading up to Monday night’s match against the Colts, it’s radio silent between the two.
“There’s no communication between us right now,” he said. “No text messages. No phone calls. I spoke to him once maybe last week. We had a quick conversation. But as this game gets closer, all communication ceases. We cut it all off until the moments before the game when we say hello, take a photo and then after the game we’ll wish each other the best of luck and stay healthy. Once the game is over it’s back to normal. The communication goes full swing again. But right now there is no communication.”
The two brothers won’t be the only Paganos in attendance Monday night. Their parents will be at Qualcomm to watch their two sons square off.
“My mom and dad are going to be there,” Pagano said, “Times we’ve played against each other before, I know my dad’s gone for walks. He doesn’t even really watch the game. He’s more inclined that he’s been here before and knows that at the end of the day someone is going to be happy and someone’s going to be sad. My parents will be happy for whoever wins and they are there to pick up the other guy and cheer up whoever loses. They’ve grown accustomed to this game.”
Still, the Chargers defensive coordinator is routinely quick to emphasize how at the end of the day, it’s about the players on the field and not about him and his brother. Every game in the NFL is important, and Pagano agrees that this Monday is no exception. His hope is that his defense feeds off of playing in front of a raucous Qualcomm Stadium.
“The number one thing is going out and getting a victory against an AFC opponent and getting a win in front of our home crowd,” he explained. “I’m excited, especially against a high-powered offense, of any change we can get of crowd noise that we can use to our advantage.”
Pagano is also focused on getting his defense to get the better of the Colts offense. One way of doing that is to play a strong 60 minutes of football. The first couple games of the year they started out strong before faltering down the stretch, but the last two games showed a Bolts defense that played tough in the second half. .
“It’s almost been a roller coaster ride for us,” Pagano admitted. “We’ve started fast in games and haven’t finished strong, and then recently we didn’t start fast but finished strong. So it’s about going out and playing a complete game. We need to put four quarters together and not lose the mindset or focus defensively to go out there and play a full 60 minute game. That doesn’t change. The game is never won in the first quarter, so we have to start fast and finish strong. That’s the mentality. We have to go out and put a good 60 minutes together.”
While it will be special to coach against his older brother, John Pagano is steadfast that the focus should remain on the players. They are the ones who go out, execute the game plan, make the tackles and deserve all the praise.
“We’ve faced each other so many times, it’s more about the team and the guys out on the field playing than it is about us,” he said. “To me, it’s an honor to be able to coach a game against him as a head coach. It’s pretty cool looking across to the other sideline and having a family member standing there, looking at you and giving the tip of the cap before the game. It’s pretty cool. That to me is most important. But at the end of the day it’s about the guys that go out there and play. We’re not the ones out there tackling, running around, blocking and catching.”
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