In a move that has been intimated throughout the season, the San Diego Chargers have re-signed Defensive Coordinator John Pagano for the 2014 season. This will be his 3rd season as Defensive Coordinator, and 13th season with the Chargers organization.
Pagano was under a two-year contract that expired this year. It was reported by ESPN that Ken Whisenhunt actually tried recruiting Pagano to join him in Tennessee.
Pagano's defense got off to a rough start in 2013. For much of the season, Football Outsiders was watching the Chargers defense and tracking it in their list of historically bad defenses. A lot of the poor play could be pegged on injuries to key players, and poor execution by the players (two words: Derek Cox).
Dwight Freeney was a force when he was on the field before tearing his quadricep in the game against Dallas in Week 4. Melvin Ingram and Manti Te'o went down with injuries in the preseason. While Te'o didn't have much impact this year when he did play, the return of Melvin Ingram in week 14 was a turning point for this defense.
In the 13 weeks prior to Ingram's return, the Chargers defense posted an above-average DVOA exactly once (against the Colts). In fact, in those 13 weeks, the Chargers defense had posted a defensive DVOA of 15%-or-worse in 11 of those games; atrocious.
In the 6 games that Ingram played, the Chargers defense had 5 games with an above-average DVOA. And using weighted DVOA, the Chargers finished the year ranked 23rd. That's actually a remarkable turnaround considering how bad the season started.
Whether the turnaround can be used as faint praise, or the bad start is damning depends on your perspective. It's hard enough for a team to replace one coordinator, by keeping Pagano, the team doesn't have to make the job even more difficult by replacing both coordinators.