Dean Pees has pledged to join the Falcons as defensive coordinator, completing a second unretirement in the past four years. But the Titans were also interested in the veteran assistant.
After Pees committed to follow Arthur Smith to Atlanta, Mike Vrabel offered him a chance to return to Tennessee. However, the Titans sought Pees in a consultant-type role instead of a return to their DC post, Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com reports.
We first heard of a Falcons-Pees partnership over a week ago, a day after Smith’s official hire, pointing to the ex-Titans OC prioritizing his former Tennessee coworker. The Falcons announced the hire less than a week later.
The Titans turned to outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen as their de facto DC last season. Bowen was the team’s primary defensive play-caller and remains on Vrabel’s staff. Pees, 71, unretired to join Vrabel’s staff in 2018 — after leaving the Ravens — but left Tennessee after the 2019 season and did not coach this past season. The Titans gave Steelers assistant Teryl Austin a DC interview earlier this month but have not filled the position. It remains uncertain if the team will do so.
While Pees will be tasked with elevating a Falcons defense that has struggled for the better part of the past three years, the Titans will need to make some improvements as well. They slid from 16th in defensive DVOA in 2019 to 29th this past season. Opponents also converted third downs at a historically great rate (51.9%) against the Titans, after the team ranked eighth in this category in 2019.
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