Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano added another key component to his coaching staff that will help guide Indianapolis into the future. While attempts to attract Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler were unsuccessful, and that move would have been highly popular, the team has hired former Chargers and 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
At first glance, this hiring will not be as popular and will receive criticism due to Manusky's resume as a defensive coordinator. His time in San Francisco and San Diego was not marked with widespread improvement in defensive performance.
The following chart illustrates the performance of Manusky led defenses from 2007-2011.
|D Ranks||Total D||Pass D||Rush D||Total DVOA||Pass DVOA||Rush DVOA|
Generally speaking, Manusky's defenses were not horrible and rarely were anything special. He excelled in developing and coordinating successful run defenses during his tenure as defensive coordinator in San Francisco.
Frankly, the numbers in San Diego are hard to quantify. When he took over in San Francisco he improved the defense from a bottom dwelling unit into a middle of the road unit. One season, with a shortened off-season and taking over for a coach that was well liked and as successful as Ron Rivera is a pretty small sample to evaluate Manusky for what he would have been able to do with more time.
In any case, there is no way to understate the fact that Manusky is not nearly as appealing of a defensive coordinator candidate as Keith Butler would have been. Interestingly enough though, there is a similarity between the two men that ought to be recognized when this move is considered.
Both men were linebacker specialists.
Manusky was a linebacker in the NFL for twelve years. He spent his first six years in the NFL as a linebackers coach for the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers. From his former staff bio in San Francisco:
A well-regarded teacher and communicator, Manusky developed the Chargers linebacking corps into one of the NFL’s stingiest units. They were part of a defense that finished the 2006 season ranked seventh against the rush and third in turnover margin with a plus-13 balance. The unit alone accounted for 43.5 of the defense’s 61 total regular season sacks. In six years as a pro coach, Manusky has sent four players to the Pro Bowl, including San Diego’s Shawne Merriman in 2006, Donnie Edwards and Junior Seau with San Diego in 2002 and LaVar Arrington with Washington in 2001. Merriman, Arrington and Edwards all went to their first career Pro Bowls under Manusky’s tutelage.
Clearly, this is a coach who knows how to get the most out of his linebackers. Not unlike former interim defensive coordinator Mike Murphy, who oversaw a pretty drastic defensive improvement in the final games of the 2011 season. Generating sacks and stopping the run is what linebackers do in a 3-4 defensive scheme, and this move suggests further that Pagano plans to take the Colts defense in that direction.
Another interesting facet in an Indianapolis hiring decision would be ties to the organization. In this case, Manusky used to play under former Colts head coach Tony Dungy. Apparently, Dungy influenced Manusky's decision to start coaching.
Manusky said the encouragement he received from his coaches during his playing days instilled in him the confidence to enter the coaching profession. "During my sixth year in the league, I played under Tony Dungy and Monty Kiffin in Minnesota. They were the first ones to say, ‘Hey, you’d be a pretty good coach.’" Manusky recalled.
So, you have a coach who excels coaching linebackers -- not unlike the marquee candidate before him. During his time coaching linebackers in the NFL he has created pressure on opposing quarterbacks, generated turnovers, and stopped the run. You have a defensive minded head coach whose primary area of experience is overseeing the secondary -- including a former colleague in Roy Anderson who will be coaching the safeties -- and who has a reputation for putting some of the stingiest pass defenses in the NFL onto the field.
There is little doubt that Pagano plans to have a lot of input into what happens on the defensive side of the football. Think of what head coach Sean Payton does in New Orleans for the offense. It seems like a good combination of experience in two key defensive areas are coming together.
What else could be a factor in deciding who Pagano wants to add to his coaching staff? One thing that would come to mind for a coach who already plans to have a large impact in game day defensive decision making is a guy who can take care of his own staff and run an efficient defensive office.
Former 49ers Head Coach Mike Nolan discussed Manusky's talents in this area as he was stepping into a defensive coordinator role for the first time.
His organizational skills were very impressive to me. I was very impressed with his ability to organize a staff and delegate the responsibilities, especially since he’s not yet been a coordinator. Although it’s all on paper and just in discussion, he has a very good plan and a very good thought process in putting those things together.
When it comes down to it, that's just the kind of guy a head coach like Pagano would probably want. An organized coordinator who can put together a detailed plan and a talented staff. Someone who can delegate and handle the administrative work of running the defense so he doesn't have to worry about every little detail when he has a bigger picture to worry about.
At the end of the day, when everything is considered. Frankly, Manusky seems like a pretty solid hire. In a couple of years, fans in Indianapolis will fans be able to gauge his impact -- and much of it will probably be from the performance of Colts linebackers.
Agreed for sure! LOVE the article and quotes, needs to be more like these for the fans so we truly know what kind of coach we are getting. I like , not love, it to be honest, It's not a sexy hire but the article said it perfectly, we don't need a coordinator like Dick Lebeau or Wade Phillips (LB coach under him in SD 04-06, say what you want about HC career in Dallas but no doubt what he did for Houston this previous season), we just need somebody to handle the day to day defensive duties. Pagano and Manusky together seem they can be a good duo for the defense. What is Manusky good for, run D; what have the Colts needed for so so so so EFFIN LONG?! RUN DEFENSE! Wow I can't say that enough. Our whole division loves to run, uh so yeah I can't say I'm throwing a fit over this one, ESPECIALLY since I personally am a fan of the 3-4; such a versatile defense.
Anything would be better than Coyer over the past 2 seasons.
No matter who the DC is, the team just needs better defensive players. Bottom line.
Not to excited about this hire, but I think a lot has to deal with the mentality of the Chargers, these guys are constant underachievers, the talent they had should have dominated but they could never get it done. I could never understand it, I hope that type of stuff does not come here.
Thanks for the great article, just the kind of information I was looking for. Developing a solid linebacker corp sounds like a move in the right direction (if that's what they are planning). Can't wait to watch them develop over the next year+.
Very well-written article, and very insightful. I don't mind waiting a few extra hours for the articles to "break" here on Colts Authority, because they seem to have a hell of a lot more meat to them, and less potatoes. Although Manusky's defense was never considered "top tier" in San Diego, they did create a lot of turnovers and made big plays. That being said, anything would be an upgrade from our basement-dwelling of a defense.
Perhaps this is already old news, but isn't he another 3-4 guy? Look like the Colts might be in for a defensive scheme change.
I agree a good level headed take on the situation. Not instant negativity, I have no feel for any if these coaching hires including pagano. But ill wait and see before I go nuts one way or the other. The only thing I know for sure is I like the defensive backbone to this staff.
Good article. Not the crazy ranting article from other sites. I guess I really should stop saying that, eh?
"In a couple of years, fans in Indianapolis will fans be able to guage his impact" -- very true, and I think that's true of pretty much everything going on now with the Colts. 2012 is going to be an odd season. Not sure what to expect. I'll take it one milestone at a time. First, March 9th (if we make it that far). Then the April draft. I'm thinking there's a possibility that some major announcements are made just after the SuperBowl but before March 9th. I think Goodell has had a word with Manning and Irsay and said "let's please concentrate on the SB for now".
@theinfelix Yes. He is a 3-4 guy.