John Harbaugh has a unique relationship with his new defensive coordinator, Dean Pees.
Harbaugh might now be Pees’ boss, but 29 years ago, Pees was Harbaugh’s coach.
The two men overlapped at Miami University (Ohio) in 1983, Harbaugh as a skinny defensive back and Pees as a young coach on the rise. At the time, Pees was Miami’s defensive coordinator and also coached the defensive backs, allowing him to get to know Harbaugh and mold his skills on the field.
“If Dean can make me any kind of a player,” Harbaugh joked today, “that’ll tell you how good of a coach he really is.”
Both men have come a long way since those days playing and coaching MAC football, and today, Pees officially took yet another step, getting announced as the Ravens’ new defensive coordinator.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to be a defensive coordinator for anybody in this league or at any level, but, it’s especially humbling to be one for the Baltimore Ravens,” Pees said today at his introductory press conference. “There has been a strong tradition here throughout the years, and especially right now. I can’t say enough about our defensive room and what it’s like to be even a part of that.
“This will be my 40th season coming up in coaching. I’ve been around a lot of staffs and a lot of people, and there’s nobody that does it better than this group right here. And I’m so proud to be a part of that.”
No one can question Pees’ credentials - he’s served as a positional coach and coordinator at top collegiate programs, was a head coach at Kent State for 15 years and spent four seasons as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator from 2006-09.
Pees is well-respected throughout the game and knows what it takes to emerge victorious on Sundays. Asked today what he learned from his time in New England, Pees responded: “Win. We won there and we’re winning here.”
Some, however, might wonder what type of style Pees will run here in Baltimore now that he’s assumed the defensive playcalling duties. He follows a very aggressive defensive coordinator in Chuck Pagano, whose go-get-‘em style helped the Ravens record 48 sacks this season, up from 27 a year ago.
While careful to say that he intends to be his own man, Pees said his defensive philosophy will resemble the ones that have preceded him.
“We have a great group. It is a unique group - one of the most unique groups I’ve ever been around,” Pees said. “They’ve got their own style and their own personality, and it is what it is, and I’m not going to change it. I have my own personality. I’m not going to be the same as Chuck Pagano or Greg Mattison or anybody before. I will be who I am, but I don’t in any way want to change that room whatsoever or the dynamics of that room.”
“You’re going to see a fiery Dean Pees, and you’re going to see an aggressive defense like we’ve seen in the past, and we’ll be getting after people,” Harbaugh added. “That’s the plan. That’s not going to change. We’re going to build on that.”
Those that know Pees as a coach say he’s one of the more prepared guys they’ve ever been around. He watches tons of film and has been known to recite statistics off the top of his head that indicate what an opposing team is likely to run in a certain situation.
Pees says it’s then his job to give his players “something to lock in on” to allow them to succeed on the field.
“We call him ‘Coach K,’ because he is so knowledgeable about the game,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “We have some great coaches on this staff, and I know Dean is the right guy for the job. I am really excited about the opportunity to play for him.”