New England Patriots: Dean Pees

Postmortems from Belichick and Pees

December, 1, 2009
Quick hits from Tuesday conference calls with coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Dean Pees:

1. Charlie Weis and a possible return to the Patriots. Asked his reaction to news of Charlie Weis' firing at Notre Dame, and any interest of having him return to the Patriots, Belichick said: "I’m disappointed for Charlie and his family and all the people they took out there with them. Of course, I go back a long way with Charlie and we have a good friendship. I talk to him on a pretty regular basis, so I’m disappointed for him on that level. But right now my focus is on the Miami Dolphins, and getting ready to go down there and play a tough division game on the road. That’s where I’m at right now. There are going to be situations like that -- there have been every year -- where things happen on other teams and on other coaching staffs or player rumors and so forth. Anything along that nature is something that would be addressed at a later point in time. It’s not anything that is on the front burner at all."

2. More on Devery Henderson's 75-yard touchdown. The Patriots were in a nickel defense (five defensive backs) and Pees said the call was something the Patriots have done numerous times. Pees said the breakdown wasn't a miscommunication, but a player simply freezing. He did not name the player. Reviewing the play independently from the conference call, it was a corner blitz (Jonathan Wilhite) and safety Brandon Meriweather appeared to be the player who missed the assignment.

3. Tallying up the big plays. The Saints had eight plays of 20 yards or more, hitting the Patriots in an area they had been excellent this season. Those eight plays totaled 312 yards. "We had more missed assignments than we’ve had in almost all the other previous games combined," Pees said, before adding that "I’m trying to find out what the factor was to that so that I can remedy it and fix it as a coach." Belichick said he views the Patriots' breakdowns as correctable.

4. Defense let issues snowball. After the game, nose tackle Vince Wilfork talked about the importance of players being able to put a bad play behind them. He felt the Patriots were challenged in that area Monday. Asked about Wilfork's remarks, Belichick said: "I think there could have been an element of that. I think I would agree with Vince’s comment on that that we probably didn’t do a good enough job of moving on to the next play. There might have been a residual effect on some of the plays that happened earlier in the game affecting, more than they probably should have, of how we played plays later in the game."

Blitz not likely to be big part of plan

November, 24, 2009
During his Tuesday conference call, Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees was asked if the same type of blitz-type pressure the team used against the Jets could possibly work against the Saints.

Pees made the point that he hasn't seen a lot of teams pressure the Saints, and part of that is because Drew Brees is "a very, very smart and intelligent quarterback who knows where to go with the ball." Another factor is that the Saints generally keep defenses off balance with various formations and personnel groupings.

With this in mind, the question was asked to the ESPN Stats & Information group: How much have the Saints been blitzed compared to other teams?

The answer: No team has been blitzed less.

The Saints have faced a blitz (five or more rushers) on 23.9 percent of their pass plays, the lowest mark in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information tracking.

The league average is 35.2 percent.

By comparison, the Patriots have faced a blitz on 35.8 percent of their pass plays this season.

So for those curious how the Patriots might attack the high-flying Saints offense Monday night, signs point to the emphasis being somewhere other than the blitz.

Pees knows defense will have hands full

November, 24, 2009
In his weekly conference call Tuesday, New England Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees acknowledged that his unit will have its hands full on Monday night with the high-octane Saints attack.

“It’s a very prolific offense,” Pees said. “They have so many weapons. The guys catch the ball, they’ve got good tight ends, they have a number of backs besides [Reggie] Bush. It’s just a very, very balanced offense.”

Pees lauded quarterback Drew Brees in leading the undefeated Saints and admitted that he presents challenges for a defensive coordinator.

“I don’t see a lot of teams pressuring him,” Pees said. “He’s a very, very smart and intelligent quarterback. He knows where to go with the ball. He does a really good job with the cadence and command of the offense. He does all those things.”

It helps, Pees said, that Brees is surrounded by other talented players and backed by a knowledgeable coaching staff.

“They do a good job with the whole scheme,” he said. “[Saints head coach Sean Payton] does a good job of calling the plays and doing formations and keeping everybody off balance.

“It’s the scheme, it’s Drew putting people in the right spot, getting rid of the ball on time, receivers getting open. It’s never one thing. It’s not just all the offensive line nor is it all just the skill players. They’ve coordinated the whole thing together and that’s why they’re playing so well on offense.”

But when asked how this New Orleans offense stacks up against that of the 10-0 Indianapolis Colts, Pees was reluctant to draw comparisons.

“I think they have their own identity,” Pees said of the Saints. “I think they’re both very, very excellent offenses. One is a multiple-formation, shift, move-around team and the other one barely moves and it’s just as effective. So I don’t think you can compare them. But I think they’re both just very, very good offenses and both able to move the ball. Both have very, very smart quarterbacks that know where to take the ball.”

Ultimately, Pees said that the Patriots must look forward if they want to stop the Saints, and can’t expect to repeat last week’s five-turnover performance against Mark Sanchez and the Jets.

“Last week was last week,” Pees said. “The Jets are just an entirely different type of team than the Saints and we’ll just have to see what direction we need to go in to try to be successful.”

Nick Caserio, New England’s director of player personnel, held his weekly conference call after Pees. Here are a few highlights:

On the work ethic of linebacker Tully Banta-Cain: “Going back to February or March, he had a real strong offseason and he continued to work on his pass rush and developed some of those skills and I think it’s really translated over into the season. So I think it’s really a credit to Tully and what he’s done. He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do and he’s responded favorably to the coaching, whether that’s on the field or off the field.”

On the versatility of offensive tackle Mark LeVoir: “When we looked at Mark last preseason, he had played both right and left tackle for the Rams. I think the thing with Mark is having that versatility. There’s value to your club so that, in the event that the left tackle goes down you can plug him in there or [vice versa]. He gives us flexibility; we’ve even used him offensively at tight end. Whatever he’s been called upon to do, he’s gone in there and performed.”

On dealing with injuries late in the season: “From our perspective, what you try to do is just to manage the team as best as you possibly can under the constraints that you’re given. Look at the Saints. They’ve had a few injuries come up at the cornerback position, what with Leigh Torrence being placed on IR, they signed [Chris] McAlister last week, then went ahead and signed [Mike] McKenzie again. I think you just have to manage the club and manage the team as best you can and deal with the injuries as they happen.”