NASHVILLE, Tenn. – New Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has made two big hires on his first coaching staff.
The Titans have reached a deal with veteran coach Dean Pees to be their defensive coordinator, while also striking a deal with Matt LaFleur to be offensive coordinator under Vrabel, who was introduced as head coach last Monday.
Pees has 10 years of experience as a defensive coordinator, with the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. In six of those years, his units finished in the NFL's top 10.
LaFleur, who interviewed for the head coaching job before Vrabel was hired earlier this month, joins the Titans after spending one year as the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, who ranked first in the NFL in scoring and 10th in total offense in 2017.
TitansOnline looks back at the NFL coaching career of Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees. (AP Photos)
"I am excited to add both of these guys to our staff," Vrabel said. "Dean brings a great deal of experience and knowledge to our staff. I have seen first-hand how he teaches and develops from our time together and I wanted to bring that same experience to our players here."
"Matt brings an energy and an offensive diversity to our team. He is going to develop an offense that puts our players in position to have success. Matt has worked with some great offensive minds, helped game plan on those staffs and I am looking forward to seeing him take that next step as a play-caller."
Pees, who announced his retirement last month, returned to the game for a chance to coach with Vrabel, who won three Super Bowl rings as a player with the Patriots. Pees, who has 45 years of coaching experience, including 14 years in the NFL, spent the last eight seasons (2010-17) with the Ravens, including the last six years (2012-17) as the defensive coordinator. He initially joined Ravens in 2010, as the linebackers coach.
Under Pees in 2017, the Ravens had a league-best three shutouts and 33 takeaways. The Ravens also ranked sixth in points allowed per game (18.9).
The 2012 Ravens team won Super Bowl XLVII and Pees became just the eighth defensive coordinator in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl with two different teams. Three (2014,'15,'16) of his six years as defensive coordinator for the Ravens resulted in top 10 rankings for the defense. Over his six-year tenure as Ravens defensive coordinator, the team ranked ninth in points/game (21.1), 10th in sacks (236), 8th in rushing yards allowed (103.4/game), fourth is rushing average allowed (3.88/attempt), 13th in third-down defense (36.9%) and 13th in interceptions (86).
Before joining the Ravens, Pees spent six seasons (2004-09) coaching for the Patriots. He originally joined the Patriots as linebackers coach, and his final four years he served as the defensive coordinator. In three of his four years (2007,'08,'09) as the defensive coordinator, the Patriots ranked in the top 11 in total defense. Over the four-year period, New England ranked second in the NFL in points allowed (17.3/game).
TitansOnline looks back at the NFL coaching career of Matt LaFleur, who was named the team's offensive coordinator on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photos: AP, Rams, Falcons)
Before joining the NFL coaching ranks, Pees spent 25 years coaching in college. Among his stops was at Michigan State, where he served as defensive coordinator under head coach Nick Saban (1995-97).
LaFleur has a great track record with quarterbacks, and he's been involved with some potent offenses. He's expected to make a positive impact on Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The Rams led the NFL in scoring in 2017, averaging 29.9 points per game. The Rams finished 10th in the NFL in total offense in 2017 – 8th in rushing, 10th in passing.
In his first season with the Rams, LaFleur was instrumental in the development of quarterback Jared Goff, who threw for 3,804 yards with 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions in 2017 en route to reaching the Pro Bowl. Running back Todd Gurley led the NFL in scrimmage yards (2,093) in 2017, was second in rushing yards (1,305).
Prior to joining the Rams, LaFleur served as quarterback Matt Ryan's QBs coach for two seasons with the Falcons. Ryan was named NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns for a 117.1 quarterback rating in 2016. In LaFleur's first season with Atlanta, Ryan was also third in the NFL in completions (407), fifth in yards (4,591), and sixth in completion percentage (66.3).
LaFleur coached quarterbacks for the Redskins from 2010-2013, and he worked in Washington with QB Robert Griffin III, who became the first Redskins rookie quarterback selected to the Pro Bowl and led the team to its first NFC East title in 13 years. Under LaFleur, Griffin established Redskins rookie records in pass completions (258), passing yards (3,200), passing touchdowns (20) and rushing yards by a quarterback (815).
LaFleur has experience working with some of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL as he spent time with Mike Shanahan, Gary Kubiak, Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay.
LaFleur spent one season (2014) coaching quarterbacks at Notre Dame after his four years with the Redskins. He started his NFL coaching career with the Houston Texans as an offensive assistant (2008-09). Prior to joining the NFL coaching ranks, he spent time six years in the collegiate ranked at Ashland University (2007-08), Northern Michigan (2006), Central Michigan (2004-05) and Saginaw Valley State (2003).
Mike Vrabel is introduced as head coach of the Tennessee Titans (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)