Long-time NFL assistant coach Dean Pees announced his retirement as the Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator on Monday.
Pees, who spent the past two seasons in that role after being brought out of retirement by Titans head coach Mike Vrabel in 2018, ends a 47-year coaching career to spend more time with his family.
“Mike gave me an opportunity to come here, along with Jon Robinson and Amy (Adams Strunk) and I’m very much appreciative. It wasnt a hard sell when Mike got me out of retirement because of how Mike was as a player and I knew the success he would have as a coach,” Pees said in his announcement. “It was my honor to work for him for the last two years. But in talking with my wife, it’s time for me to hang up the cleats, so to speak. It’s been 47 years, and I told the team today, 721 games. That’s a lot of games to coach I’ve been around enough players and watched them retire and sometimes they stay longer than they should have, and I just feel like it’s a great time for us.
“I want to spend a lot of time with my wife. She’s very supportive. I’ve got a 12th grandchild on the way, and nine grandsons, who are starting to play ball, and I want to be a part of their lives and watch them play. It’s been a great profession and it’s been a great ride.”
Pees came out of retirement to join Vrabel’s staff just a few weeks after retiring as the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator. He had also coached under Bill Belichick in New England, where he coached Vrabel when he was a player with the Patriots.
Vrabel said he simply didn’t have the heart to ask Pees, who came back this year after a health scare during the 2018 season, to come back for another season.
“On behalf of the organization, coaching staff, me, I just want to thank Dean for his countless hours in the office, and the preparation,” Vrabel said. “I think when you hear him talk, I think you see where I get a lot of things. The players love him. You know, I’ve talked him out of retirement once. I didn’t have the heart to do it a second time. We’re lucky that he was here, and that he chose to come here and be with us. I’m really thankful.”
Pees said his philosophy was simple and that it works in all walks of life, not just coaching. He said that he never actually inquired about any of the jobs he held from the high school ranks, to college and into the NFL. He simply said he was asked to interview for them.
“It’s about doing a great job and being loyal to the people you work for. I can truly say I’ve loved every job I’ve ever had,” Pees said.
Among the thrills Pees had with the Titans was being able to coach with his son Matt, who is an assistant on Vrabel’s staff. Pees said his own father never got to see him coach, because he died at age 56 of a heart attack shortly after Pees took his first high school head coaching job, so he took particular pride in being able to coach with his son.
“Incredible, and I will forever be indebted to Mike and Jon and Amy and all the other people who made it happen, because it didn’t happen other places. I’ve been wanting that for a long time, and I retired thinking that was never going to happen, and Mike made it happen,” Pees said.
As for what he considers his proudest moment with the Titans, Pees pointed to his players.
“I’m proud of the way our players played. I’m really proud of these guys. If you look back, I’m just proud of the way these guys performed week in, week out, gave it their all, bought into whatever the game plan was that we as a staff put together for them, didn’t balk at it – that’s what I’m most proud of.,” Pees said. “Mike (Vrabel) came up with the slogan that we finished everything, and I think that’s what these guys did, and just as much in this last game. I mean those guys, there wasn’t any quit in them. We had a bunch of guys beat up now. I know he (Mike Vrabel) won’t tell you that, I’ll tell you that. We had a bunch of guys that were playing hurt, and for us to go on the road for four straight weeks against the four teams that we had to play, my hats off to those guys.
The Titans are also losing defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs to Ohio State. Coombs had coached the Buckeyes’ secondary before coming to Tennessee and now returns there to be defensive coordinator.
Vrabel said he will begin the process to find a new defensive coordinator, but won’t rush into things.
“There’s a lot of options to as far as being able to bring guys in, to interview. Again, I want to take my time, I want to make sure. You’ve heard me talk about things with the staff. I mean, it’s important that I’m comfortable with the person that’s going to be in that role. So again, this is not something that’s going to be done overnight. We’ll make sure that we do what’s best for the team,” Vrabel said.