First-time head coach Arthur Smith will lean on a longtime defensive mind to coach the other side of the ball in Atlanta.
The Falcons announced the hiring of veteran defensive coordinator Dean Pees, Dave Ragone as offensive coordinator and Marquice Williams as special teams coordinator. Additionally, the Falcons also retained wide receivers coach Dave Brock.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported earlier in the day that Atlanta was expected to hire Pees, who retired last January.
Smith had also been working toward tapping Ragone, the Bears passing game coordinator, for his OC, Rapoport noted. Smith, though, will call the plays as he did in Tennessee.
Pees, 71, didn't coach in 2020 after announcing his retirement from football for the second time in 25 months. Now he's being called upon to do one last job with the man who was his fellow coordinator in Tennessee in 2019. During the 2018 and 2019 seasons, while Pees was in Tennessee, the Titans ranked third and 12th in scoring defense and eighth and 21st in total defense, respectively. Tennessee got notably worse without Pees manning the controls this season.
In Atlanta, Pees will be taking over a defense with chronic issues. The Falcons defense has finished in the bottom third of the league in total defense the last three seasons and is best known for blowing late leads.
Ragone, 41, will be a first-time offensive coordinator in Atlanta. Ragone and Smith crossed paths in Tennessee from 2011 to 2013 when Ragone was the wide receivers and quarterbacks coach and Smith was a quality control assistant and assistant tight ends coach. Ragone will inherit a far improved offense and quarterback position in Atlanta than he did in Chicago with Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles and the Bears.