Arguably the top acquisition by the Raiders this offseason wasn’t a player, it was the addition John Pagano to the coaching staff.
The former longtime Chargers Defensive Coordinator joined the Raiders under a new title as Assistant Head Coach - Defense.
His primary duties as he has explained them was to improve the communication between the secondary and the linebackers to avoid lapses in coverage. An addition benefit is adding someone from a division rival. Obviously the idea that it weakens a rival is a benefit all the time, but twice a year it’s two-fold as it also helps the Raiders to game plan for his former team.
Despite the addition of Pagano, the Raiders retained Ken Norton Jr as Defensive Coordinator, in the hopes that having both NFL minds together would be that much of an asset to this team’s formerly 26th ranked defense. This week Pagano also acts as someone who has intimate knowledge of the players on the Chargers roster.
Said Ken Norton Jr of Pagano; “The fact that he’d been [in San Diego] so long, and he has a little more insight into what they think or what they might see when they see us play, different ways they might want to attack us and different things like that, so that certainly helps us out in a lot of ways.”
That holds true for the Raiders offense, though it’s an aspect Raiders offensive coordinator downplayed somewhat.
“He’s a heck of a coach and a heck of a football mind,” Downing said of Pagano, “and he certainly knows those guys, he was in San Diego a long, long time. He’s a point of reference, but right now the offense is focused on doing our job well and executing our assignments. We’re not really spending a ton of time trying to uncover little gems, we’re focused on doing our job.”
Just two weeks ago, the Raiders were on the opposite side of this scenario when they were in Denver where former Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave is now the Quarterbacks coach. The Broncos’ defense had the Raiders’ number all day. How much that had to do with Musgrave lending his insight is not known. But I’m sure it helped.