Defensive Coordinator Makes NFL Debut Against Oakland In Prime Time

Rookie coordinator with veteran defense

A Chargers staff coach has his work cut out for him against the Oakland Raiders on Monday night.

John Pagano, formerly a linebacker coach, will make his NFL debut as defensive coordinator with a duo that's been around for a while.

The Raiders receivers have speed, their line has size and as a whole and they’re vicious -- especially in Oakland.

“They have speed at all positions,” Pagano said. “We have to go up there and it’s going to take a challenge for us to play at our best.”

The Chargers have 11-year veteran, Pro-Bowler Quentin Jammer and five-year Charger Antoine Cason. In the 2011 season closer against the Raiders, Cason broke up four passes and led the team with 15 passes defended overall.

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The Bolts have the experience, but also some weaknesses that the Raiders would love to exploit.
Jammer has the tendency of giving his opponent a bit of a cushion on the line. The NFL rules state that you can have “unbroken and continuous contact” with a receiver within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. But Jammer rarely lines up close enough to do that.

Cason, on the other hand, can get too caught up in that rule and lines up close enough to get as much contact as possible within those 5 yards. That can lead to him getting beat down the line for some deep completions.

Likely lining up against the Bolts’ duo is Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore. Both have speed but not the same amount of experience as Jammer and Cason. Heyward-Bey is in his fourth NFL season and it is only Moore’s second.

Heward-Bey caught 64 receptions for 975 yards in 2011 and Moore had 33 catches for 618 yards. Moore missed the first three 2012 preseason games because of a hamstring injury and is listed as a probable starter as the No. 2 receiver for Monday’s opener.

Pagano knows what he is up against but is also excited to see what his team can do in a situation like tonight.

“It’s going to be a challenge going up there,” Pagano said. “A hostile environment and playing together, that’s what we’re excited for.”

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