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Dean Pees, legendary NFL defensive coordinator, announces retirement

Atlanta Falcons DC Dean pees

Since his days as the New England Patriots linebackers coach back in 2004 and 2005, Dean Pees has been among the most highly-respected assistants in the NFL.

The 73-year-old Ohio native has led defenses with the Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons throughout his brilliant career.

After coming out of retirement to help colleague Arthur Smith make the transition from Tennessee to Atlanta back in 2021, Pees is now officially stepping away from the game.

Atlanta made this announcement one day after winning their season finale with the team’s head coach throwing a ton of praise in Pees’ direction.

“You appreciate all the work and the sacrifice. We all get paid to do this and we’re lucky as hell, but there are sacrifices you have to make. Dean’s a guy who has coached at every level and had success. He has impacted a lot of lives and he has impacted the game.”

Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith on Dean Pees

Pees headed an inexperienced and talent-stricken Falcons defense that finished in the bottom 10 in both points allowed and yards in each of the past two seasons. But that doesn’t begin to tell the story here.

In 14 seasons as an NFL defensive coordinator, Pees led eight top-10 scoring defenses with seven defenses finishing in the top-10 in total yards allowed.

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Dean Pees’ coaching tree is legendary

dean pees retires, atlanta falcons
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It might not get as much attention as, say, the Bill Walsh coaching tree. But those who have worked under Pees in the past continue to make a name for themselves. Just check out this list.

  • Josh Boyer, Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator
  • Patrick Graham, Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator
  • Don Martindale, New York Giants defensive coordinator
  • Leslie Frazier, Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator
  • Steve Spagnuolo, Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator
  • Teryl Austin, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator
  • Shane Bowen, Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator
  • Mike Macdonald, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator

Current NFL head coaches John Harbaugh and Mike Vrabel also played for Dean Pees during his college career. Prior to entering the NFL ranks, the longtime assistant spent time with Miami (Ohio), Navy, Toledo, Notre Dame and Michigan State. He was also the Kent State head coach from 1998-2003 prior to joining New England.

Congratulations on a stellar career.