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Titans to hire Dean Pees as defensive coordinator

The first domino to fall.

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns

Multiple people are now reporting that former New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees will be joining the Tennessee Titans in the same role. This is a good hire for Mike Vrabel. Pees has been the architect of some really good defenses.

This from an article that Justin Graver wrote:

This news seems to have broken from the fact that Pees will be bringing his son Matt onto the Titans defensive staff as an assistant. Matt Pees apparently informed the high school team he currently coaches in Colorado that he would be leaving to take a job with the Titans.

Here is the tweet from Green Mountain High School with the official release:

It should be noted that, as with the positional coach hires, nothing official has come from the Titans yet.

Pees had retired in January after the 9-7 Ravens failed to make the playoffs when the Bengals converted a 4th-and-12 for a 49-yard game-winning touchdown.

Mike wrote an article profiling Pees last week when the rumors came out that Pees could be a potential candidate for the Titans defensive coordinator position. From Mike’s article:

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.

For reference, the Titans have scored four defensive touchdowns in the past three seasons combined.

Mike Vrabel played for Coach Pees in New England, where the Titans new defensive coordinator served as the Patriots linebackers coach (2004-2005) before becoming the defensive coordinator (2006-2009).

Dean Pees has coached two Super Bowl-winning defenses in his 45-year coaching career, in 2004 as the Patriots linebackers coach and in 2012 as the Ravens defensive coordinator. Note that he was also the defensive coordinator for the undefeated Patriots when they lost to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

In my opinion, this is a home-run hire for the Titans. The Ravens defense has been among the best in the league for years despite going through a rebuild of sorts on the defensive side of the ball after the retirement and departure of legendary players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. They have found sustained success forcing turnovers, a stat that usually has little carry-over from year to year.

The big concern with Pees that has been floated around is the Ravens inability to “finish” - the team has blown a number of second-half and fourth-quarter leads in recent years.

The fan in me assuages that concern by telling myself that Mike Vrabel will use what he learned from the Patriots, who never let their foot off the gas, and instill a more aggressive approach to the defense that isn’t conservative late in games. I’ll have to go back and watch some Ravens games from this season to see if those blown leads are a scheme problem, a player problem, or a Joe Flacco problem...

And thus the Titans have found their new defensive coordinator. Here’s our reaction podcast on the reported hire of Pees.

Will we have to wait until after the Super Bowl to name the offensive coordinator?