In 1983, Dean Pees was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Miami of Ohio, mentoring and coaching a young defensive back by the name of John Harbaugh. As a coach, Pees has worked under the likes of Nick Saban, Lou Holtz, Bill Belichick and most recently the Ravens’ Harbaugh.
He was the Patriots’ linebackers coach under Belichick from 2004 to 2005 before taking over as defensive coordinator in 2006, after Eric Mangini left to coach the division-rival New York Jets.
Pees, 62, was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator from 2006 to 2009, but he left the New England organization following its disgraceful 33-14 playoff game loss to the Ravens in 2009.
The reason for his departure from the Patriots remains a bit of a mystery, but he eventually landed on his feet in Baltimore to coach Ray Lewis and the Ravens’ linebackers.
One suggestion for his departure was a medical condition, which led to a brief hospital stay, but an article last week by Ron Borges of the Boston Herald said Pees simply had a reaction to Albuterol, an inhaler medication.
Another suggestion was that Pees was forced out, but he has disputed that on several occasions. Pees said on Friday his contract was expiring and that he felt it was time to move on.
“I was not fired,” Pees said Friday, via CSNBaltimore.com.
Despite the reason(s) for his departure, it’s hard to dispute the success Pees had while leading the Patriots’ defense.
During his four-year run as New England’s defensive signal-caller, the Patriots were the only team in the NFL to finish in the top 10 in scoring defense each season, allowing less than 20 points per game every year during that span.
In his first as Patriots’ defensive coordinator, Pees’ unit set a franchise-record for fewest points allowed per game (14.8).
The following season, New England had a perfect regular season (16-0) before losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl 42, and the defense ranked fourth in the league in yards per game (288.3), the fewest yards yielded by a Patriots’ defense in 28 years. The defense also finished second in the NFL with 47 sacks.
Despite a number of key injuries in 2008, forcing New England to start 22 different players on defense, the Patriots’ defense held its own–ranking second in the NFL–allowing 309.9 yards per game.
The Patriots’ defense has not been the same since Pees’ departure. In the two years following Pees’ exit, New England has ranked 25th and 31st in yards allowed per game, while giving up 19.6 and 21.4 points per game.
After coaching the Ravens’ linebackers for two years, Pees now has a chance to leave his mark on one of the league’s best defenses.