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Atlanta Falcons coordinator Dean Pees compares his defense to Ravens, Patriots teams

Andrew Buller-Russ
Atlanta Falcons
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees has been involved in the NFL for 17+ years. He played a major role in helping several different squads achieve success. Heading into the 2022 season, no one is anticipating any record-breaking performances from the Falcons, at least not in a good way.

In 2021 they finished 29th out of 32 NFL teams, allowing 27 points per game. Nowhere near great.

But they’ve made a few offseason additions such as middle linebacker Rashaan Evans and vet corner Casey Hayward, and are expecting continued growth from their young cornerstones such as A.J. Terrell, Richie Grant and others.

Still, no one anticipates the Falcons suddenly becoming one of the top defensive units in football, not this year. Just don’t tell that to Dean Pees.

Related: 2022 NFL defense rankings: Best NFL defenses entering training camp

Atlanta Falcons’ Dean Pees says defense won’t be mediocre in 2022

The Falcons have had a defense that ranks in the bottom half of both points and yards allowed in each of the past four seasons. The last time they had a squad that ranked in the top ten of both categories? The Falcons made the playoffs in 2017, ranking eighth in points allowed and ninth in yards given up.

But Pees wasn’t around for that effort. He’s only seen what the Falcons have done last season, and so far in camp this year, in 2022.

He doesn’t want to hear about the past, or the expectations of the Falcons heading into the season. Coach Pees says we’ll see a defense that’s drastically improved over the performances we’ve seen in Atlanta in the past decade.

“We’re changing the culture around this dadgum place. It’s not going to be mediocre. It’s not going to be average. It’s not going to be in the bottom half of the league like it’s been 15 of the last 20 years. Sick of that crap. We’ve got to take charge, and it’s not going to be anyone else to do it but us. I’m tired of everybody telling us how bad we are, because after a while you start believing it. Guys around here on defense sometimes believe 15th is OK or whatever. We’ve been in the Top 10 one time out of the last 20 years. That bullshit’s over. Sorry, I’m getting fired up today, but I’m tired of this crap. We’re going to change the culture of the defense around this frickin’ place. People are going to start talking about the Atlanta defense like they did Baltimore and New England. It’s going to be the same shit around here.”

Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees

Wow. Eyebrows raised.

Pees didn’t exactly clarify when he expects to see these changes, but we’ll act like he’s anticipating for big changes in 2022.

I’m just gonna say it. The Falcons won’t come close to emulating anything near what the Baltimore Ravens or New England Patriots have done in the past. We’re talking about some of the most revered units in the past few decades.

Of course, the only reason Pees mentions these two teams is because he had a hand in their success.

In 2004 Pees joined the New England Patriots as a linebacker coach, before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2006.

He then took a job as the inside linebackers coach with the Baltimore Ravens in 2010, before becoming their defensive coordinator the next year, a title he held through 2017.

But those weren’t exactly the best years of the Ravens and Patriots defense. It’s not like we’re talking about the Ray Lewis 2000 Super Bowl team.

Though Pees did lead strong units, his defenses ranked in the top 10 of both points and yards allowed in five of his 13 seasons as coordinator. Still, that doesn’t automatically ensure his scheme can’t be beat. It still requires talented individuals to execute his plans. I’m just not sure the Falcons have enough help on defense for Pees’ vision to take shape.

As far as what Pees thinks? It appears to be a running theme in Atlanta this season. It’s as if they hope they can just blindly enter the season, ignoring all their flaws. Although it’s much more likely that Falcons coaches know what they’re getting involved in, and they just don’t want to hear it. They still have a job to do, and if they don’t do it well, they may not be in Atlanta once 2023 rolls around.

Related: Atlanta Falcons head coach ‘doesn’t give a crap about predictions’