Former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees made a lot of sense as a candidate to become the next Detroit Lions defensive coordinator. He was the defensive coordinator for the Patriots before Matt Patricia took over. He, like Patricia, has a background working with linebackers, which is an area the Lions need drastic improvement. And both Patricia and Pees have worked alongside each other for six years.
But Pees didn’t make my list of the top 5 defensive coordinator candidates for one very simple reason. He announced his retirement on January 1.
But on Tuesday, the Tennessee Titans announced that Dean Pees would become their next defensive coordinator, joining new head coach (and former Patriots linebacker) Mike Vrabel. It’s an interesting match, seeing as though Pees was literally coaching Vrabel as a player 10 years ago, but why didn’t Pees come to Detroit? Did Patricia even reach out?
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Lions tried to bring in Pees as part of their defensive staff, even though he retired less than a month ago. Take, for example, this quote from Pees himself, via the Baltimore Sun.
“One week after I retired I had gotten an offer to coach and I turned it down,” said Pees. “I had already spoken with the officials at Medicare, talked with the NFL about my pension and had planned the move. We were ready to move our stuff to our retirement home in Michigan.”
Yeah, he even has a retirement home in Michigan.
And when you combine that quote with this report from Jason La Canfora...
Dean Pees "retirement" sure was shortlived. Lions were quickly talking to him about a job. Ends up as Titans DC. Vrabel adds experience...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 30, 2018
... it seems pretty clear that the Lions wanted Pees, but Pees didn’t want Detroit.
However, not everyone is buying it. Take Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun:
I've seen that reported, but that would surprise me a bit. I don't think Pees and Patricia are very tight.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) January 30, 2018
But let’s toy with the idea for a moment anyways. Why would Pees turn down the Lions but eventually give in to the Titans? We may never know for sure, but it sounds like Vrabel was just endlessly persistent.
“Then I got a call from Mike Vrabel and he kept calling and calling,” Pees said. “When I was sitting in the office, I kept missing the game more and more. It got to the point where I finally knew I missed it and told him ‘Yes, I’d do it.’”
So either the Lions just got to him too early in retirement and he wasn’t convinced to come back already, or they just weren’t persistent enough. Or maybe Zrebiec is right, and Pees isn’t just all that close with Patricia. Whatever the reason, it appears Detroit didn’t get their guy.
The Lions have yet to hire a defensive coordinator, but rumors suggest they may be targeting Boston College defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni.