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HOF LB Ray Lewis Provides Insight on Titans DC Dean Pees

Posted Feb 14, 2018

Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis spent three seasons with former Ravens linebackers coach/defensive coordinator Dean Pees. In an interview with Titans Online, Lewis provided some insight on what Pees, hired last month as defensive coordinator with the Titans, will bring to his new team.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Ray Lewis made plenty of sacrifices to reach Hall of Fame status, and the former Ravens linebacker has no regrets.

Now, he’s challenging some current and future Titans to do the same under new defensive coordinator Dean Pees.

In Baltimore, Lewis spent countless hours preparing with Pees. Lewis called the experience with Pees, his former position coach and defensive coordinator with the Ravens, invaluable to him. And he said the Titans need to take advantage of a coach Lewis calls a “gem.”

“Oh, my gosh,” Lewis replied when asked about Pees. “He’s a brain. And he’s a great teacher, a great man. To get him on the back end of my career, it was a blessing. He’s a gem.”

Lewis, named to 13 Pro Bowls during his playing career with the Ravens, spent three seasons with Pees in Baltimore – the final three seasons of his career.

The Titans hired Pees last month to replace defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau under new head coach Mike Vrabel. Lewis, speaking to Titans Online the night he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, provided some insight on Pees.

Pees spent the last eight seasons (2010-17) with the Ravens, including the last six years as the defensive coordinator. He joined Ravens in 2010, as the linebackers coach. Pees and Lewis both won a Super Bowl ring with Baltimore in 2012.

“When I call him a brain, I mean coach Pees, he takes a player and it’s like he is saying: Give me what is in your mind,” Lewis said. “One of the things that we started to do is spend a lot of quiet time with each other. We’d look at things and it was like, ‘No Dean, I don’t like that. Well, Ray, think about this.’ Marvin Lewis was like that, and Jack Del Rio was like that. That’s how Dean Pees is as a coach.

“Certain guys will sit there and grab all of the information from you and say, OK, this is what the game plan looks like. It’s one of his greatest abilities. He is not like most coordinators, who can be like: ‘We are running it’ with no questions asked. He has a great mind with great ideas, but he wants you to run your defense. He wants players to be comfortable.”

Lewis said he was more than willing to give up his time. He issued a challenge to the current and future Titans to do the same.

“Who is that guy in Tennessee?” Lewis said. “Who is the guy that will be willing to sacrifice hanging with the boys for four hours to be with your defensive coordinator, by yourself? Because that is what Dean brings to them. He has so much knowledge. He can draw up great defensive plays, that’s one thing. But when you work with him and see how his brain works. … We used to draw up defenses, look at each other, and then we’d come back and say: Let’s try it in practices, see what it looks like, and if we don’t like it, change it. But guys have to commit and buy in.

“I’m telling you, he’s a great coach, and a great guy. The Titans are lucky to have him.”

In three (2014,’15,’16) of his six years as defensive coordinator for the Ravens, Baltimore finished in the top 10 rankings on defense under Pees. Prior to coaching defense in Baltimore, Pees served as defensive coordinator with the New England Patriots. In three of his four years (2007,’08,’09) as the defensive coordinator in New England, the Patriots ranked in the top 11 in total defense.

The Titans finished 13th in the NFL in total defense in 2017, in terms of yards allowed. The Titans finished the year ranked fourth against the run, and 25th against the pass. The team was 17th in scoring defense, and finished the year with 43 sacks.

Lewis said he was surprised when he heard Pees was coming out of retirement to coach with the Titans. Pees initially turned down a contract extension in Baltimore, and had decided to walk away from the game after 45 years of coaching. But he opted to join Vrabel, one of his prized pupils with the Patriots.

Lewis said he won’t be surprised if his former coach has great success in Tennessee.

“(During the end of the season) he texted me about every day: “I’m winding down, this is it.’ He’d send me pictures of his man cave and all this stuff,” Lewis, smiling, said of Pees. “And I would say to him, that man cave sure looks sweet. I sent my jersey to him … and then next thing I know is: ‘Dean Pees is going to the Titans.’ What the freak? He’s like: I couldn’t stay away.

“The guy loves it. He loves coaching, he loves his players and he loves the game. And if you’ve still got it, why not?”