John Pagano has Raiders clicking, on practice field more

CARSON, Calif. — To work a Chargers home game required a drive south for John Pagano. Interstate 15 generally was the most popular path to Qualcomm Stadium. The trick to avoid traffic was to exit on Aero Drive instead of Friars Road. Make a couple left turns. Drive down a long, steep hill that dropped into the parking lot’s main entrance.

Home.

But Sunday is no homecoming. This is no surreal return.

“Maybe if the game was in San Diego,” Pagano said. “It’s the LA Chargers.”

Pagano will work his sixth game Sunday as the Raiders’ defensive play-caller. It marks his first time visiting his former employer of 15 years. The StubHub Center, though, is about 100 miles north of familiarity, and he already saw old colleagues at an Oct. 15 game in Oakland. The matchup is less about Pagano and more about the improvement under his watch.

Adjusted preparation and a simplified scheme have been the root causes, players say.

At the core of the former, defenders are spending more time on the practice field via walkthroughs and less in meeting rooms. The adjustment is designed to enhance their introduction and retention of game-plan installments for an upcoming opponent.

“That’s helped us out a lot,” said safety Reggie Nelson, a co-captain. “That’s the one thing he likes to do is explain to us and let us see it first. That’s been A-plus, so (practice) is not the first time we ever go out and see it (on a field).

“… Some learn in the classroom. Some got to see it out on the field. There’s a lot of ways that different guys learn. I think he’s been doing a good job of just accomodating everybody.”

Pagano, 50, joined the Raiders as their assistant head coach/defense in January. The opportunity arose after the Chargers made a change at head coach, and as can be the case, the new coach had a specific coordinator in mind with Anthony Lynn locked into Gus Bradley.

Shortly after Pagano became available, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio approached him. The opportunity represented a chance to remain in the AFC West division and stay on the West Coast. Ken Norton Jr., the team’s defensive coordinator at the time, continued to oversee the defense, leading meetings and calling plays until his Nov. 21 dismissal.

This offseason, Pagano plans to implement more changes. The ones so far have been well received.

“He likes to get on the field more than being in the meeting room,” linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “I feel like, as players, we benefit from that a little bit more. (Intead of) sitting in a meeting room hearing that, (we’re) being out there on the field and being able to do exactly what he’s trying to get done at a walking tempo and then go out later in practice and try to execute faster.

“There are three different parts. He understands if you see it more, you’ll understand it more than just seeing it on the board. I think that’s one of the things that has helped us out. …Usually we wouldn’t be on the field until practice starts. Now we’re getting that extra 10, 20 minutes to cover some things we might not be clear on.”

Of course, Pagano has done more.

Readily apparent adjustments include cornerbacks like Sean Smith and TJ Carrie shadowing receivers more or outside linebacker Bruce Irvin dropping into pass coverage less. The playbook has been simplified, part of Pagano’s effort to have defenders think less and thereby play faster. There have been more nuanced touches affecting coverage schemes.

The 2017 season will end Sunday for the Raiders.

Pagano has proven he’s the coach to lead their defense into the new year.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Raiders Videos
Vegas Nation: NFL Draft preview
Bryan Salmond and Michael Gehlken breakdown the Raiders offseason moves as well as what they could be looking at in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: Wide Receiver
Vegas Nation video host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken look at the wide receiver position for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: Raiders secondary
Vegas Nation video host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken look at the Raiders secondary for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: Running Back position
Vegas Nation video host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken look at the running back position for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: Join Vegas Nation for NFL Draft updates
Vegas Nation video host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken will provide updates about everything surrounding this year's NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: NFL Draft: Defensive Line
Vegas Nation video host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken discuss the defensive line and what can happen in the 2018 NFL Draft.
David Humm's life celebrated at South Point
Raiders owner Mark Davis, former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne were among those who paid tribute to David Humm during a ceremony at South Point Arena in Las Vegas on April 6, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review Journal)
Vegas Nation Stadium Show
Ed Graney, Rick Velotta and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the progress on the Vegas Stadium and how it will affect some of the players and staff.
Vegas Nation: Gruden hoping free agents can establish culture
Michael Gehlken reports from the NFL Meetings in Orlando, including what the Raiders are doing there as well as what Jon Gruden meant by "throwing it back to 1998."
Vegas Nation: Raiders Cut Ties With Smith, Ellis Gets Contract
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the Raiders cutting ties with Sean Smith and Justin Ellis' three-year contract.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Cut Ties With Aldon Smith
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over the Raiders cutting ties with Aldon Smith due to allegations made against him.
Vegas Nation: Reggie Mckenzie's Son A Potential Candidate For Raiders
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over how Reggie McKenzie's son Kahlil McKenzie is a potential draft pick for the Raiders.
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Parking, other topics closer to resolution
Ed Graney and Rick Velotta are joined by Las Vegas Stadium Authority chairman Steve Hill to discuss the latest developments around the Las Vegas Stadium.
Vegas Nation: Raiders lose 9th pick to San Francisco 49ers
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken provides an update from the NFL scouting combine about the Raiders and 49ers coin toss to determine which team will get the 9th or 10th pick of this years NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: Lynch, Crabtree future with Raiders pending
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken provides an update from the NFL scouting combine on the future for Marshawn Lynch and Michael Crabtree with the Raiders.
Vegas Nation: Several documents approved
Ed Graney and Rick Velotta discuss the latest developments from the Las Vegas Stadium Authority meeting, including news on parking and the total cost of the stadium.
Vegas Nation: Raiders looking to keep key veterans
Vegas Nation video host and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken discuss the Raiders plans this offseason with free agency approaching.
Vegas Nation: Raiders awarded four draft picks
Bryan Salmond goes over the news that of the Raiders being awarded four draft picks.
Vegas Nation: Vontae Davis Visiting Raiders
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over Vontae Davis visiting the Raiders in Alameda California.
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Estimated Cost Remains at $1.9 Billion
Ed Graney, Rick Velotta and Bill Bradley discuss updates around the Las Vegas Raiders stadium, scheduled to be completed by 2020.
Vegas Nation: Las Vegas could host NFL Draft
Bryan Salmond and Michael Gehlken talk about Vegas' chances to host the NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: Eagles take down Patriots in Super Bowl LII
Bryan Salmond, Ed Graney, Michael Gehlken and Sam Gordon talk about the Eagles Super Bowl win over the Patriots.
Vegas Nation: Eagles win Super Bowl LII
Bryan Salmond recaps the Eagles Super Bowl victory over the Patriots.
Las Vegas, Raiders aim to host Super Bowl as early as 2023
Las Vegas and its $1.9 billion stadium project won’t be forgotten when nine NFL owners and team presidents, together wielding influence over an adjusted Super Bowl bid-selection process, meet in the coming months. Raiders owner Mark Davis serves on the Super Bowl and Major Events Advisory Committee, positioning him to have an active role in where Super Bowl LVII will be located on Feb. 5, 2023. Las Vegas, upon hosting the game, would be the latest NFL city to which league owners have awarded a Super Bowl following a stadium construction. There is no guarantee the game is coming to Las Vegas then. A combination of recent history and comments from an NFL executive, however, indicate the opportunity should arrive in the next eight years.
Vegas Nation: Minnesota running an efficient Super Bowl
Bryan Salmond and Ed Graney talk about Minnesota running a good Super Bowl and a Raiders rookie making an impact.
NFL Commissioner Goodell gives updates on hot topics with the Raiders
At a press conference ahead of Super Bowl LII, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded to questions about the Raiders hiring process with Jon Gruden and about the team having many home games played abroad.
0130 sb wrap with mention
Bryan Salmond, Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney talk about Tom Brady's Minnesota ties, Jon Gruden's advantage in coaching as well as the Patriots demanding respect.
Vegas Nation: Here's how the RJ will cover Super Bowl LII
Ed Graney, Michael Gehlken and Sam Gordon preview their coverage plan of the Super Bowl in Minnesota.
Vegas Nation: Pro Bowl edition
Bryan Salmond recaps the NFL Pro Bowl, including how Raiders quarterback Derek Carr performed.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like