“It’s difficult to leave the Ravens but I couldn’t pass up on this great opportunity,” Pagano said. “I’m just thrilled and so excited.”
Pagano is the fourth former Ravens defensive coordinator to be named an NFL head coach, joining Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan and Rex Ryan.
Colts management met with Pagano on Tuesday, two days after the Ravens’ AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots. And Pagano wowed them during the interview, enough so that they tabbed him to run their football team as a first-time head coach.
The Colts, who are coming off a disastrous 2-14 season where quarterback Peyton Manning didn't play at all due to a neck injury that has cast his future playing career in doubt, chose Pagano over San Francisco 49ers special-teams coach Brad Seely, former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr, Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman.
"We are so happy for Chuck, Tina and their daughters," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We are proud of him. Like me, Chuck grew up in the game and loves it. We will miss him and thank him for all he did for the Ravens."
Meanwhile, the Ravens have yet to make a decision on whether they’ll retain oft-criticized offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. His contract has expired, and no negotiations are going on at this time. Cameron has been at the Senior Bowl practices this week in Mobile, Ala. with Harbaugh.
During Pagano’s first year as defensive coordinator after replacing Greg Mattison when he went to the University of Michigan, Pagano led the defense to the third overall ranking in the league.
Known as an aggressive coach with a confident, occasionally outspoken personality, Pagano will definitely be missed by his players.
“He's a fantastic coach, he gets along good with his guys,” inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe told the Times. "Players want to play for them. He deserves this. He’s a great guy. “He's creative. He's all about defense. He puts it all out there emotionally. He's a great guy to play for. I’m sorry to see him go, but I'm happy for him.”
The Ravens had four players named as starters to the Pro Bowl: outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, middle linebacker Ray Lewis, free safety Ed Reed and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
Suggs excelled last season, recording a career-high 14 sacks and setting a team record with seven forced fumbles and emerging as a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
“I think coach has his own swag to him,” Suggs said last August. “I think this is our first Italian defensive coordinator., so it’s going to be fun. We like the aggressiveness that the coach portrays at times, and we like the smartness that he portrays at times. So, I think he's got his own swag and his own two shoes and it's going to be great for the city of Baltimore.”
The top internal candidates to replace Pagano on the Ravens' staff are linebackers coach Dean Pees and defensive line coach Clarence Brooks.
For more coverage of the NFL, go to profootball.scout.com.
Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider