At this point, the Falcons enter the offseason with only one coaching vacancy on the staff — runnings back coach. Desmond “Des” Kitchings accepted the job on Tony Elliott’s staff at Virginia to be the Cavaliers next offensive coordinator. Obviously, the Falcons could have more holes to fill on the staff as teams around the league hire head coaches and those head coaches build their staffs, but right now, Atlanta only has one position to fill.
We can only assume that Arthur Smith will keep his coordinators — Dean Pees, Dave Ragone, and Marquice Williams. However, he confirmed that Pees would return as defensive coordinator in a radio interview.
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Pees came out of retirement to join Arthur Smith’s staff and coordinate his defense, which by most metrics was underwhelming. The Falcons recorded the least amount of sacks in the league (18) and even fell behind individual players’ sack totals — T.J. Watt (22.5) and Robert Quinn (18.5). It is fair to say Atlanta needs a lot of help.
In a press conference leading up to the team’s Week 18 matchup with the Saints, Pees illustrated where the defense needs to improve and his group’s specific goals before the start of the 2022 season.
“The thing that we just really got to develop in the offseason and before next year is the ability to rush the passer, and not always have to pressure to do it. And number two is to be able to play man coverage better on the backend. And it’s kind of a two-fold thing. If you don’t get to the quarterback, that means the secondary is hung out there forever, and that’s not good. On the other hand, if you can’t play man coverage at some point in time in this league, I mean you’re just going to have to. So it’s those two things to me that we really have to develop before next year.”
The Falcons need to bolster nearly every position on the depth chart, so a bit of continuity with the coaching staff is necessary if they ever want to compete in the postseason. It would’ve been a massive red flag if Smith gave Pees the boot after one disappointing season with inferior talent, especially considering he came out of retirement for his old friend.