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Dean Pees Ends Brief Retirement, Joins Titans As Defensive Coordinator

January 30, 2018
Dean Pees' retirement didn't last long.

Pees, who retired Jan. 1 as the Ravens' defensive coordinator citing the desire to spend more time with his family, has been hired as defensive coordinator by the Tennessee Titans. 

Pees, though, will be spending more time with his family; his son, Matt, a former high school coach in Colorado, is also joining the Titans' staff, according to the school. 

It's a curious about-face for Pees, 68, who said the day after the Ravens' season ended that he welcomed the chance to walk away from the game after "45 years of football, 680 games, over 6,000 practices. ... It's been a great, great run."

In joining the Titans, Pees will not only coach with his son, but he will also be reunited with first-year Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, whom Pees coached for five seasons with the New England Patriots, first as linebackers coach from 2004-2005 and then as the Patriots defensive coordinator from 2006-2008. 

Pees was with the Patriots through 2009, then joined the Ravens in 2010 as linebackers coach. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012, the year the Ravens won their second Super Bowl title. 

Before his stint with the Patriots, Pees had stops at seven colleges. That included a job as Navy's secondary coach from 1987-1989. In 1983, Pees was the defensive coordinator at Miami of Ohio, where one of his defensive backs was Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. 

In Tennessee, Pees will replace legendary defensive coach Dick LeBeau, who was let go by Vrabel. This past season the Titans ranked 13th overall in team defense, fourth against the run and 25th against the pass.  

The Titans, like the Ravens, finished 9-7 but earned a wild-card bid to the playoffs. They beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round and then lost to the Patriots in the divisional round.

Known for disguising his defenses and for innovative schemes, Pees led a Ravens defense that ranked in the top 10 overall from 2014-2016. This year, the Ravens' defense finished 12th overall. But after the Ravens invested heavily in both free agency and the draft on the defensive side of the ball, expectations were high for this group, and the results were uneven. 

The Ravens led the league in interceptions (22) and posted three shutouts, one shy of the franchise record. But they also allowed 231 yards rushing by the Chicago Bears, the most ever by a Ravens opponent, and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger torched them for 506 yards during a 39-38 Steelers win. 

Then in the season finale, the Ravens surrendered a late 90-yard scoring drive, including a 49-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-12 in the final minute, that lifted the Cincinnati Bengals to a 31-27 win and knocked the Ravens out of playoff contention. 

The next day, Pees announced his retirement. Pees said he had been considering retirement throughout the past year, and one thing that influenced his decision was the death of former Ravens assistant coach Clarence Brooks, who died at age 65 in 2016 after a yearlong battle with cancer.

"You just never know when you're time's going to come," Pees said Jan. 1 as he announced his retirement, adding that Brooks' death "hit me hard. I started thinking about the rest of my life, and how many more years do any of us have?" 

Now, it appears, he will have at least one more year back on the field, with his son, in Tennessee. 

The Ravens, who promoted Don "Wink" Martindale to defensive coordinator to replace Pees, will play at Tennessee next season, though the date is not set yet.

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka    

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox