Falcons’ DC Dean Pees Has a Message for Doubters


Getty Grady Jarrett #97 of the Atlanta Falcons.

It’s been a while since the Falcons have had a sturdy defense, but second-year Atlanta defensive coordinator Dean Pees plans to change that in 2022 and he won’t settle for anything less than exceptional.

When speaking to the media after training camp on Saturday, July 31, Pees went on a rant about how things won’t be the same in Atlanta anymore––for the better.

“We’re changing the culture around this dadgum place,” Pees said. “It’s not going to be mediocre. It’s not going to be average. It’s not going to be in the bottom half of the league like it’s been 15 of the last 20 years. Sick of that crap. We’ve got to take charge, and it’s not going to be anyone else to do it but us. I’m tired of everybody telling us how bad we are, because after a while you start believing it. . . . Guys around here on defense sometimes believe 15th is OK or whatever. We’ve been in the Top 10 one time out of the last 20 years. That bullshit’s over. Sorry, I’m getting fired up today, but I’m tired of this crap. We’re going to change the culture of the defense around this frickin’ place. People are going to start talking about the Atlanta defense like they did Baltimore and New England. It’s going to be the same shit around here.”

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Pees Comes From Two Super Bowl Defenses

Pees, 71, and Smith worked together with the Titans under head coach Mike Vrabel. Pees was the Titans defensive coordinator from 2018-2019. Once the 2019 season ended, Pees retired in January of 2020 but soon unretired to join Smith in Atlanta.

Before heading to Tennessee, Pees was in Baltimore with the Ravens for eight seasons under John Harbaugh’s staff. From 2012-2017, Pees was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator. Prior to moving up, Pees was the inside linebackers coach from 2010 to 2011. During his first season as defensive coordinator in 2012, the Ravens were crowned Super Bowl XLVII champs, beating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31.

And long before that, Pees was on Bill Belichick’s staff in New England as the Patriots’ linebackers coach for two seasons (2004-05). Pees played a role in the Patriots’ 2005 Super Bowl win over Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX. The following year, Pees was promoted to defensive coordinator and held that position through 2009.

Pees didn’t have much success with Atlanta’s defense in his first year but with such eagerness to change the losing culture to a winning one, we should see a positive shift this fall. Now, nobody is saying he’ll take the team to a Super Bowl appearance but he’ll at least get them to above .500.

Pees Ready to Unleash 100% of His Defensive Scheme

At the conclusion of last season, the Falcons ranked near the bottom of nearly all of the important categories on defense.

They gave up an average of 364.4 yards per game (26th), 131.9 yards rushing (27th), 232.5 yards passing (18th) and 27 points (30th), and finished dead last in sacks.

While there were several reasons why the Falcons played poor defense, one of the bigger reasons was that they had to learn an entirely new 3-4 defense under Pees in a short amount of time.

Thus, Pees could not open up his entire playbook since he didn’t want ot overwhelm them, however that changes this year.

“I kind of know (that) the guys that are back kind of know what to expect,” Pees said. “You know what we’re really looking for. Last year, I’d say we put in, at the end of the year, maybe 60% of the defense that we really want to run. This year, it’s going to be 100%.”

With more veterans added to the defensive depth chart and the other guys now entering their second season under Pees’ system, the players should feel a lot more comfortable––resulting in a more disruptive unit.




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