Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Titans have had discussions with former Ravens and Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees about coming out of retirement to lead the Titans defense.
One interesting name I’m hearing for Titans defensive coordinator vacancy is former Ravens DC Dean Pees. Pees announced retirement following end of season but he has a relationship with Mike Vrabel dating back to New England. Not sure how likely it is but it’s been discussed— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) January 27, 2018
Pees was the linebackers coach in New England in 2004 and 2005 before being promoted to defensive coordinator from 2006 to 2009. Obviously that means he coached new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel during that time frame and also worked with GM Jon Robinson who would both be very familiar with his work.
After leaving New England, Pees joined John Harbaugh’s staff in Baltimore as linebackers coach in 2010 and 2011 before again being promoted to defensive coordinator, where he remained until the end of this season. He announced his retirement on January 1st following the Ravens dramatic season-ending loss to the Bengals in Week 17.
The 68-year old defensive mind would certainly bring some experience to the coaching staff and his defenses in Baltimore have been excellent recently, finishing 3rd in defensive DVOA in 2017 and 6th in 2016. Pees runs an aggressive 3-4 defense that would mesh well with the concepts Vrabel will want to implement here. That scheme helped the Ravens lead the NFL in takeaways in 2017 with 34 (the Titans finished with just 21) after finishing 4th in the league with 28 forced turnovers in 2016. Baltimore turned 5 of those turnovers in to defensive touchdowns, more than double what the Titans have managed in the past two years combined. They also recorded three shutouts on the season — at Cincinnati in Week 1, vs Miami in Week 8, and at Green Bay in Week 11 — becoming just the 5th team in the past 30 years to accomplish that feat.
The drawback to Pees, if you listen to Ravens fans (usually a bad idea), is his conservative prevent style at the end of games. That’s something that probably sounds pretty familiar to Titans fans. It can be maddening to watch a defense dominate all game only to leak yards and sit back at the most crucial moment. However, Vrabel has already indicated that he won’t be shy about interjecting in playcalling so maybe he could change some of that late game mentality if Pees ends up in Nashville.
Having spent the past 14 years in the NFL working for Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh, Pees has first hand knowledge of what it takes to win at the highest level in this league and he’s got a couple Super Bowl rings to show for it. His experience working with Vrabel and Robinson makes him a natural fit here.
It doesn’t sound like this is imminent by any means — he only said they have had discussions — but its another name to watch as Mike Vrabel continues to build his first staff in Tennessee.