NASHVILLE – Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees is retiring from the NFL.
Pees made the announcement on Monday at Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after the team's season ended with a loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.
"It is for real," Pees said of his retirement. "If I wanted to continue coaching it would be here. We've got a great staff, really enjoyed the guys, great working for Mike, I love our players. I'm done coaching.
"In talking with my wife, we've decided it was time for me to hang up the cleats, so to speak. It's been 47 years, and I told the team today 722 games – that's a lot of games to coach. It's time."
Pees just finished his second season with the Titans as defensive coordinator, and his 47th year in coaching in 2019.
Pees fought back tears when he talked about the start of his coaching career.
"The honest truth is I wanted to be a high school football coach," Pees said. "Because those were the guys, along with my father, that I admired the most. My dad never got to see me coach. He died the first year I became a head high school coach, he passed away at 56 years old of a heart attack. He never saw me coach. So, I coached a lot of years for him. That's all I really wanted to be. I don't want to say I didn't have any desire – I was happy. I was a high school coach and (thought), 'This is great.'
"And one thing led to another, and one thing led to another, and one thing led to another. And it's happened. Did I ever imagine I would spend 16 years in the NFL, and I would be a defensive coordinator at these three places? Probably not in my wildest dreams did I ever think that, but it happened."
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel will now begin the process of finding his replacement. Vrabel also confirmed defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs is leaving to become defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
"I never want to be the coach that keeps people from doing things they want to do," Vrabel said of Coombs. "I've had that happen to me. I am happy for Kerry and he is on his way to Columbus."
Pees arrived in Tennessee with 14 years of experience as an NFL coach, including 10 total years as a defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. He became one of eight defensive coordinators in NFL history to coach in a Super Bowl with two different teams.
In 10 of his 12 seasons as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, Pees' defenses finished in the NFL's top 12, including his first defense in Tennessee.
The Titans finished 21st in the NFL in defense in 2019, but the unit finished 12th in points allowed. The defense really stiffened up down the stretch this season, allowing just 13 points in a 20-13 win over the Patriots in the Wild Card round, and 12 points in a 28-12 win over the Ravens in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The Chiefs beat the Titans 35-24 on Sunday.
Prior to joining Vrabel's staff in Tennessee, Pees served on the staffs of some of the most successful head coaches in football, including Nick Saban, Lou Holtz, Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh.
Before joining the NFL coaching ranks, Pees spent 25 years at the collegiate level – including 21 seasons as a coordinator or head coach. Pees got his start in coaching with six years at Elmwood (Bloomdale, Ohio) High School, first as an assistant coach (1973-74) and then as a head coach (1975-78).
"It's been a great profession," Pees said. "It's been a great ride."
Titans Online looks back at two seasons with defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who announced his retirement on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. (Photos Donald Page)