Pagano Replaces Manusky, Faces Tall Task

The Chargers finally made a big change to their coaching staff, though not the one most fans were seeking. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was let go after one rough season, replaced by in-house candidate John Pagano. Will this addition by subtraction add up to more wins for San Diego?

There are plenty of excuses to justify Greg Manuksy's poor performance. Four projected starters -- Bob Sanders, Shaun Phillips, Larry English and Luis Castillo -- combined to miss 44 games. He was also hindered by the lack of an offseason, unable to properly install his system.

Nonetheless, the results were bad enough to require change. The Chargers ranked No. 19 in yards allowed per rush (4.4), No. 23 in sacks (32) and No. 32 in third-down defense (49 percent).

Filling in is John Pagano, who has been on the staff for a decade and has coached linebackers since 2005. He is the brother of Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.

The hiring of Pagano reaffirms San Diego's preference to value continuity above all else. He knows the system better than anybody and will be charged with getting all the players on the same page, something that was clearly not the case in 2011.

Pagano has a long list of challenges waiting for him, with issues on all three levels of his unit.

The defensive line is high in potential but low in productivity, with more needed from Corey Liuget and Vaughn Martin, specifically. Also, nose tackle Antonio Garay will be an unrestricted free agent.

The linebackers need to make more big plays, especially on the outside. English cannot be relied on and the team will place a priority on bringing in another pass rusher. The inside linebackers need to make more plays, as well, but 2010 second-round pick Jonas Mouton may help in that area.

The secondary is the biggest mess of all. Quentin Jammer has lost a step and may need to move to strong safety. That would be easy enough if not for the glaring struggles of Antoine Cason and Marcus Gilchrist this season. Shareece Wright will be added to the rotation in 2012, but A.J. Smith may be forced to spend yet another high draft pick on a cornerback.

Add it all up and there is plenty on Pagano's plate. The Chargers only hope he didn't bite off more than he can chew.

Is John Pagano the right man for the job? Discuss inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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