Falcons defensive coordinator Pees, 73, announces retirement

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees announced his retirement on Monday, one day after completing his second season with the team.

Pees, 73, is ending a 50-year career in football. He previously coached 16 years in the NFL, including a combined 12 seasons as the defensive coordinator at Tennessee (2018-19), Baltimore (2012-17) and New England (2006-09).

The Falcons capped a 7-10 season with Sunday's 31-10 win over Tampa Bay. Over the final nine games of the season, Pees’ defense limited opponents to 25 or fewer points in each game. The Falcons ranked 10th in the league in scoring defense over that span.

Overall, the Falcons ranked 27th in total defense, allowing 362.1 yards per game. Atlanta ranked 31st with 21 sacks.

Pees was forced to miss the Falcons' 21-18 loss at New Orleans on Dec. 18 when he was briefly hospitalized after being knocked to the ground in a pregame collision with Saints returner Rashid Shaheed, who was trying to field a punted ball during warmups.

Pees was placed on a stretcher, carted off the field and taken to University Medical Center in New Orleans. He was released and returned with the team to Atlanta before resuming his lead role of the defensive staff the following week.

Falcons linebackers coach Frank Bush, who filled in for Pees as the play-caller against the Saints, could be a leading contender if coach Arthur Smith chooses his next defensive coordinator from the staff.

Between 1979 and 2003, Pees coached in various capacities at Findlay, Miami (Ohio), Navy, Toledo, Notre Dame, Michigan State and finally Kent State, where he was head coach from 1998-2003.

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The Associated Press