It’s been nearly four years since the Patriots and Dean Pees parted ways but the team’s former defensive coordinator never really went away.
Pees has been with the Ravens since 2010 and has been their defensive coordinator beginning in 2012. That would be the season in which they won their second Super Bowl and shut out the Patriots in the second half of the AFC Championship to get there.
Josh McDaniels has coached with and against Pees for years now, and he said Pees’ defenses are “always extremely well prepared.”
One aspect of Pees' plans that doesn’t get used as often in New England is blitz pressure.
“He is an aggressive play caller,” said McDaniels. “They will come after you in critical situations and make you beat pressure, which I know means he has a lot of confidence in his defense and his scheme, his players.”
A great example of Pees’ know-how against the Patriots came in the AFC Championship.
After the Patriots spent the prior week embarrassing the Houston Texans by snapping the ball before Houston was set, Pees told his defense that would not be happening. They would get lined up simply and play when the ball was spotted.
On the Patriots first scoring drive of the game, they penetrated to the Ravens 12. Lining up quickly after Aaron Hernandez gained 8 on a reverse, the Patriots tried to pick up the third-and-2 with a run by Stevan Ridley. But Corey Graham, up from his corner spot, anticipated the run and the quick snap and stoned Ridley, forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal.
The Patriots might beat a Pees defense but they won’t fool it too often.
“They are rarely out of position,” said McDaniels. “You rarely see any kind of communication issues with them, which just speaks volumes about the way they are coached and the way they prepare. It will be a great challenge for us. I have a ton of respect for Dean. He has done an incredible job with their defense since he has taken over, and I know we are going to have our hands full on Sunday.”