Pagano leaves Ravens for Colts' head coaching job (updated)

The hits keep coming for Ravens fans.

The latest blow, which comes just three days after Baltimore's season ended in stunning fashion in a loss to the Patriots, is that defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has accepted the head coaching job in Indianapolis.

The news was first reported by ProFootballTalk.

"It's difficult to leave the Ravens but I couldn't pass up on this great opportunity," Pagano said. "I'm just thrilled and so excited."

Pagano joins the Colts after just one season as the defensive coordinator in Baltimore. In that time, he improved the Ravens' defensive ranking from 10th in 2010 to 3rd this season. Known as an aggressive play-caller, the Ravens went from having only 27 sacks last season to 48 in 2011.

He becomes the fourth Ravens defensive coordinator to be hired elsewhere as a head coach, joining Rex Ryan, Marvin Lewis and Mike Nolan.

The 51-year-old is beloved by his defensive players here in Baltimore, and has a very close relationship with a number of guys on the Ravens' roster, including safety Ed Reed, who might consider retirement. Pagano helped recruit Reed to the University of Miami and coached him there.

It will be interesting to see if Pagano leaving at all affects Reed's decision whether or not to return for the 2012 season.

Pagano served as the Ravens' secondary coach for three seasons prior to taking over as defensive coordinator when Greg Mattison went to coach at the University of Michigan last offseason. With Pagano's departure, the 2012 season will mark the third in a row the Ravens will have had a different defensive coordinator.

As I mentioned earlier this week, one prime in-house candidate to take over the now vacant defensive coordinator job will be Dean Pees, who has spent the last two seasons as the Ravens' linebackers coach.

Pees was the Patriots' defensive coordinator from 2006-2009.

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