Dean Pees came out of retirement for Arthur Smith. The first-time head coach worked with the grizzled veteran in Tennessee as coordinators on opposite sides of the ball under Mike Vrabel. When the Falcons hired Smith, he knew Pees was his defensive coordinator.
Pees helped guide Smith on his way through two seasons, which were rough for everyone in and around Flowery Branch. The Falcons went 7-10 in back-to-back seasons while boasting one of the worst defenses in the league.
Fast forward to this offseason, Pees retired, the Falcons hired Ryan Nielsen and completely overhauled the defensive personnel. It would lead many to throw their hands up, “What the hell? Where was all this talent when I was around?”
“I think Dean (Pees), every day, has buyer’s remorse he retired, (when) he sees some of the moves we’ve made,” Smith joked.
Following 50 years of coaching, Pees retired for the third and what will likely be the final time. He’s had a legendary career with multiple Super Bowl rings, but I’m sure he would’ve loved to coordinate this talented defense, which could feature as many as nine new starters from a year ago.
It’s going to be a much more productive unit in 2023, and Pees may have a few regrets seeing the talent, but he knew what he was getting into.
When Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot took over, the roster was top-heavy with aging and expensive veterans. It was always going to be rough for the first couple of seasons, and nobody knew that better than Dean Pees.
He coordinated one of the least talented units in football for two seasons, despite knowing there was nothing the Falcons could do to upgrade it. The club was dealing with record-breaking amounts of dead cap and rebuilding, yet, Pees still stuck through it.
It’s something that doesn’t get enough attention. Nobody, including Dean Pees, could overcome that lack of talent. Arthur Smith is joking, but the discrepancy in personnel is no joke.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire