A veteran defensive coordinator may be joining Arthur Smith's coaching staff in Atlanta, according to multiple reports.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that he "continues to hear" that Dean Pees, a longtime defensive coach who has been a part of two Super Bowl-winning defenses in his career, "will be joining Smith's new staff in Atlanta in some capacity."
Later in the day, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network also reported that Pees "could come on" and join Smith's coaching staff.
The Falcons and Smith agreed to terms on Friday for Smith to be the next head coach here in Atlanta. On Saturday, the two sides made it official with Smith officially signing his contract.
Pees, 71, and Smith coached together in Tennessee under head coach Mike Vrabel. From 2018-19, Pees was the Titans defensive coordinator while Smith has served as the offensive coordinator the last two seasons. Pees retired in January of 2020 after the 2019 season.
Prior to joining the Titans staff, Pees was on John Harbaugh's staff with the Baltimore Ravens for eight seasons. He was the Ravens' defensive coordinator from 2012-17. The Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, beating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31, to cap the 2012 season. Pees was originally hired by the Ravens to be the inside linebackers coach, a post he held from 2010-11.
Before joining Harbaugh in Baltimore, Pees left Kent State – where he was the head coach from 1998-2003 – to join Bill Belichick's staff in New England. Pees was the Patriots' linebackers coach for two seasons (2004-05) before taking over as defensive coordinator in 2006, a post he held through 2009. The Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
On Friday, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler tweeted that a name "strongly connected to Arthur Smith's staff as he takes the Atlanta Falcons job: Bears passing game coordinator Dave Ragone. I'm told there's a good chance he becomes Smith's OC after five years in Chicago."
Smith and Ragone worked together in Tennessee during the 2011-13 seasons. Smith was a Titans offensive line and tight end assistant coach while Ragone was the quarterbacks coach in 2013. From 2011-12, Ragone was the Titans' wide receivers coach while Smith was an offensive assistant/quality control coach in 2012 and a defensive assistant/quality control coach in 2011.
Smith, 38, has spent the last decade with the Titans and has been the Titans' offensive coordinator for the last two seasons, helping revive quarterback Ryan Tannehill's career (he was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2019) and featuring running back Derrick Henry, who has developed into one of the most productive – and feared – backs in the league.
Under Smith in 2020, the Titans offense finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in the league in total yards per game (396.4) and No. 2 overall in rushing yards per game (168.1) as Henry rushed for 2,027 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. The Titans were also fourth in the league in scoring, putting up 30.7 points per game.
From 2019-20, Smith orchestrated one of the NFL's top offenses with the Titans leading the league in red zone touchdown percentage (75.2), ranking fifth in points per game (27.9) and fifth in total offense (379.6). He oversaw the second-ranked rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 153.5 yards per game on the ground.
The former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator becomes the 18th head coach in Atlanta Falcons franchise history.