Dean Pees

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spins, many of the league’s offensive and defensive coordinator positions are open as well. Teams seeking new head coaches will soon begin OC and DC searches — some have already started those processes — but a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

The Browns and Patriots have begun 2023’s coordinator hires. Here are the rest of the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 1-26-23 (3:14pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Carolina Panthers 

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

Falcons DC Dean Pees Retires

For the third time in his coaching career, Dean Pees has announced his retirement. The Falcons defensive coordinator is stepping away from the NFL after two seasons in Atlanta and 18 total years as a staffer in the professional ranks.

Pees, 73, began his storied coaching career in college in 1979. In the decades to follow, he would go on to work on with seven different staffs, including the head coaching role at Kent State for six seasons. That led to his arrival in the NFL in 2004, as a linebackers coach with the Patriots It was under that title that he won his first Super Bowl. He became New England’s DC two seasons later, and remained with the franchise through 2009.

That stint was followed by a similar one (transitioning from LBs coach to DC) in Baltimore. Pees was in charge of the Ravens defense for six years, a span including the team’s Super Bowl campaign in 2012. He was expected to retire at the conclusion of the 2017 season (and, very briefly, did), with the Ravens ready to move on to Don Martindale as his replacement and Pees’ status as a highly successful coach secured.

Very shortly after that, however, Pees came back to serve as the Titans’ DC. He led Tennessee’s defense for two seasons, including a 2018 campaign which saw them rank amongst the league’s best in terms of both points and yards allowed. When he decided once again to step away from the game (this time for a full season), it was expected that he would end his career.

Instead, the Falcons – under new head coach and former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith – were reported to be interested in luring him out of retirement, and they succeeded in doing so in January 2021. Pees oversaw Atlanta’s defense for the past two campaigns, one in which the team has struggled on both sides of the ball through their transition into a rebuilding phase. Last month, he suffered a health scare following a pregame collision which required a trip to the hospital, but he was able to return to his post the following week.

Overall, Pees now walks away after 14 years in charge of four teams’ defenses. D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes (on Twitter) that the Falcons will undergo a “wide search” for his replacement. Two candidates he names are LBs coach Frank Bush (who filled in for Pees in Week 15 following his hospitalization) and Packers defensive passing game coordinator Jerry Gray, who has eight years of DC experience dating back to his time with the Bills and Titans.

Falcons DC Dean Pees Cleared To Return

The Falcons had to make an emergency switch to their defensive coaching staff last week. A pregame collision resulted in defensive coordinator Dean Pees needing to be hospitalized and inside linebackers coach Frank Bush assuming play-calling duties.

Fortunately, Pees will be back with his team in its Week 16 game Saturday in Baltimore. The veteran DC received clearance to return, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com notes.

Pees, who had come out of retirement to be Arthur Smith‘s defensive architect last year, was talking to FOX sideline reporter Kristina Pink during pregame warmups when he collided with Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed. Pees, 73, said he does not believe he lost consciousness, but due to blood thinner medication he is taking, doctors told him he could have bleeding in his brain. A CT scan cleared Pees, however.

Just kind of looking up and going, ‘What the hell just happened?” Pees said of the collision, via Rothstein. “I thought I was good enough, beat up a little bit but don’t feel like I’m concussed or anything like that. They said, no, because of that, they wanted to take precautionary measures and put the stuff on my neck and all that kind of stuff. It looks terrible, but it’s precautionary.”

Bush, who served as the Texans’ defensive coordinator for two seasons under Gary Kubiak and finished the 2020 season as the Jets’ interim DC, said he initially thought Pees would coach from the box after his fall. But Smith informed him he would need to call plays for the Falcons, who lost 21-18 in their Saints rematch. Pees was back at the team’s practice facility Monday.

Titans Made Dean Pees Offer To Return

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.

Falcons Hire Dean Pees, Dave Ragone

Previously rumored Falcons plans came to fruition Thursday. Arthur Smith will bring Dave Ragone aboard as his offensive coordinator, and the first-year Falcons coach has a big role planned for the recently retired Dean Pees.

The former Titans defensive coordinator will again come out of retirement, committing to become the Falcons’ DC. The Falcons are also hiring Marquice Williams as their special teams coordinator.

While Pees and Smith served as Titans coordinators together in 2019, this will be Ragone’s first run as OC. Working as Bears QBs coach for the past five years, this will represent a move up for the ex-quarterback — the first known target for this post.

Ragone, 41, will not, however, have an immediate path to a play-calling role. Smith’s play-calling chops helped him draw interest from all seven head coach-seeking teams this year, and he confirmed he will call plays in Atlanta.

For Pees, this marks unretirement No. 2. Mentioned early as a likely to join Atlanta’s staff, Pees will skip any advisory or consulting roles and jump back into the play-calling fire.

Pees left his post as Ravens DC after the 2017 season but re-emerged as the Titans’ defensive boss ahead of the ’18 campaign. Pees, 71, stuck to retirement for a season this time around — which coincided with a Titans defensive regression — but will return to lead a fourth team’s defense. Pees served as Patriots defensive coordinator from 2006-09 and led the Ravens’ defense for six seasons beginning with their Super Bowl-winning 2012 slate. Of Pees’ 12 defenses, only one has ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed.

Williams has worked as assistant special teams coach with the Chargers and Lions, working in that capacity with Detroit for the past two seasons.

Dean Pees Expected To Join Falcons

Dean Pees has two retirements under his belt since the end of the 2017 season, but the veteran defensive coordinator may be on the verge of yet again returning to work.

The former Titans, Ravens and Patriots DC has emerged on the Falcons’ radar, with CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora noting Arthur Smith‘s first Atlanta staff is expected to include Pees in some capacity (Twitter link). Pees was Tennessee’s DC from 2018-19, overlapping with Smith’s lengthy run with the Titans. The two were coordinators together last season.

Pees, 70, retired from his post as Ravens DC — one he held from 2012-17 — three years ago but quickly backtracked on a pledge to step away by accepting an offer to become the Titans’ DC. But he left the game again following the ’19 season, preceding a significant step back from Tennessee’s defense. The Falcons may well be set to lure Pees back again. This would mark a fourth team and 17th NFL season for Pees, a longtime college coach who began his NFL career with the Patriots in 2004.

For the first time since their Bobby Petrino hire, the Falcons have the HC keys to an offense-oriented leader. This leaves a void on Atlanta’s defensive staff. While Pees may not be summoned to return to a coordinator post, the Falcons could certainly benefit from having him on their staff. Atlanta’s Dan Quinn hire did not coincide with consistent defensive success. They ranked as a top-half defense just twice in Quinn’s five-plus-year tenure and slipped to 29th in total defense this season.

Titans DC Dean Pees Retires

The NFL is losing a prominent assistant coach. Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees announced his retirement during a press conference Monday.

Pees, 70, started coaching college football in 1979 and has been in the NFL since 2004. The Titans just lost secondary coach Kerry Coombs to Ohio State earlier today, so Mike Vrabel will have some work to do retooling his defensive staff. Pees got his NFL start with the Patriots, where he served as Vrabel’s linebackers coach and defensive coordinator. Pees left New England after the 2009 season, and went to Baltimore. He served as linebackers coach and then defensive coordinator with the Ravens for the next eight seasons, winning Super Bowl XLVII with the team.

Pees has been on the staffs of some legendary head coaches, including Nick Saban, Lou Holtz, and Bill Belichick. He initially retired after the 2017 season, but that retirement lasted only a few weeks. After Vrabel landed the job in Tennessee, he quickly lured his old coach out of retirement. Tennessee’s defense was up and down during the regular season, but Pees had them playing really well in the playoffs. He was able to put together a gameplan that completely shutdown Lamar Jackson and the vaunted Ravens running game in the divisional round.

Titans DC Dean Pees To Return In 2019

Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees informed the team that he intends to return to the team for the 2019 season, Jim Wyatt of the team’s website writes

In November, the 69-year-old coordinator was taken to the hospital for a “medical issue” but returned to the team the following day and didn’t miss a game the rest of the season. At the end of the 2017 season, Pees was expected to retire when he left the Ravens but joined the Titans’ staff a month later as the team’s new defensive coordinator under first-year head coach Mike Vrabel.

In his first season with the team, Pees led the Titans to the No. 3-ranked scoring defense and the unit allowed the eighth-fewest yards. That was the first time Tennessee ranked in the top 10 in both categories since the Jeff Fisher-led squad went 13-3 in 2008. In December, Pees’ unit registered a 17-0 win over the Giants for the team’s first shutout since the 2000 campaign.

A longtime defensive coordinator in New England (2006-09) and Baltimore (2012-17), Pees boasts 46 years of coaching experience and a handful of top-10 units.

South Rumors: Pees, Kelly, Saints, Falcons

New Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees had to be hospitalized during Sunday’s game against the Colts because of a medical issue. But the 69-year-old assistant is back healthy and working with the the Titans, Mike Vrabel said Wednesday. Pees was coaching on the Titans’ practice field during their first Week 12 workout, per Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. The veteran DC stayed at an Indianapolis hospital overnight but returned to Nashville, Tenn., on Monday. He’s expected to make the trip to Houston for the Titans-Texans’ Monday night game.

Here’s the latest from some other South teams on Thanksgiving Eve.

  • The anchor of an improved Colts offensive line will not be available Sunday against the Dolphins. Ryan Kelly has an MCL sprain and will miss Indianapolis’ Week 12 contest. The third-year center feared a much worse injury occurred in Sunday’s win over the Titans. “I was worried about the ACL, but that’s intact. It’s reassuring,” Kelly said, via CBS4’s Mike Chappell. Kelly said he underwent knee surgery in high school and is receiving a second opinion, per Chappell. This malady does not require a corrective procedure, and it’s possible Kelly may be back soon. An addition off the Rams’ practice squad, Evan Boehm will start in Kelly’s place.
  • Signed to essentially take Dez Bryant‘s place on the Saints‘ roster, Brandon Marshall signed for the 13th-year veteran’s minimum, Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets. He signed for $1.02MM and will count $259K toward New Orleans’ cap. Bryant signed for slightly more than the veteran minimum — $1.25MM — with incentives tied to his deal. It’s not known if Marshall has incentives attached to his pact. He’s yet to suit up for the Saints.
  • The Falcons activated Deion Jones last week but did not deploy him against the Cowboys. The acclaimed Atlanta middle linebacker will also miss the Falcons’ Thanksgiving game in New Orleans, being declared out in advance of the NFC South rivalry matchup. Jones suffered a foot injury in Week 1 and spent two months on IR. He’s on Atlanta’s active roster now, and it’s possible the Falcons are giving him an extra 10 days to prepare for a Week 13 return. However, at 4-6, the Falcons can ill-afford any more losses if they want to preserve their fleeting playoff hopes.

Titans DC Dean Pees Taken To Hospital

Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees was taken to a local hospital after suffering a “medical issue” during today’s game against the Colts, the club announced.

Pees, 69, previously announced his retirement in January after six seasons as the Ravens’ defensive play-caller, but he changed his mind about continuing his NFL career after Mike Vrabel was hired as Tennessee’s head coach. Pees was hired as the Titans’ defensive coordinator at the end of January, and has led a defense that currently ranks in 12th in DVOA.

While it’s unclear who is currently calling defensive plays for the Titans, Vrabel does have experience as a DC. PFR extends it best wishes to Pees and wishes him a speedy recovery.