Pagano was born and raised in Boulder, Colo. An all-state linebacker at Fairview High School, he played at Mesa State from 1985–88, earning a degree in business marketing.
Pagano originally joined the Chargers in 2002 as the team’s quality control coach for the defense and moved his way up the ranks, first as an assistant linebackers coach, then as the outside linebackers coach and linebackers coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator on January 5, 2012.
Since Pagano first started working with the team’s linebackers in 2005, a player from that group led the team in tackles and sacks every season, including Shaun Phillips who paced the squad in 2012 with 9.5. Pagano also worked closely with Shawne Merriman, who led the NFL in sacks in 2006, was selected to play in three Pro Bowls and won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2005.
In Pagano's first year as a coordinator, the Chargers scored a total of seven defensive touchdowns in 2012, second in the NFL to the Chicago Bears (12), and two shy of the team record set by the 1961 squad that returned nine interceptions for touchdowns. The 2012 Chargers returned five interceptions and two fumbles for scores. The Chargers also increased their sack total, going from 32 in 2011 to 38 in 2012, including a team-record-tying 11-sack performance in a Dec. 23 win against the New York Jets.
Pagano and his wife, Kimberly, have two sons, Jagger and Brody.
His brother, Chuck Pagano, is the current head coach for the Indianapolis Colts. Both John and Chuck played for their father, Sam, who spent 26 years as the head coach at Fairview High. Sam also coached internationally in Taiwan, Germany, France and Italy.
|San Diego Chargers Defensive Coordinators