Ravens defense needs to get 49er's offense off the field
For years, the Ravens defensive coordinator's chair has seemingly been on an escalator heading up -- right to an NFL head coaching job.
Marvin Lewis was the defensive coordinator on the Ravens last Super Bowl team, and two years later he was the head coach of the Bengals. Mike Nolan followed Lewis into the defensive coordinator's office, and after three seasons in that job, Nolan took over as the 49ers head coach.
Rex Ryan succeeded Nolan, and before too long he was head coach of the Jets. Most recently, Chuck Pagano parlayed his one year as the Ravens defensive coordinator into the head coaching job with the Colts.
Is current Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees next in line to ascend to a head coaching job?
"I do not want to be a head coach," Pees said at his session with the media on Friday. "I want to be a defensive coordinator. I do not want to be a head coach. I was one in college – they can have that gig all they want. No thank you.”
Pees, 63, has been in the coaching profession for more than 30 years, the past nine in the NFL. His collegiate coaching career included three seasons at Navy, where he was the secondary coach from 1987-89. Pees was the head coach at Kent State from 1998-2003, where his players included Browns kick return specialist Josh Cribbs -- a star quarterback with the Golden Flashes -- and Steelers linebacker James Harrison.
But Pees said on Friday that he prefers being in the trenches and the film rooms with players.
Head coaches, Pees explained, are "not as close to the players. That’s why I’m in this business. It’s why I got into it as a high school coach, because I like being around young people."
Pees had his share of challenges this season trying to maintain continuity and quality with a unit wracked by injuries. The Ravens finished the season 17th in total defense -- uncharacteristically low for a franchise built on its defense -- but Pees' unit had its finest hour in the AFC Championship Game, holding New England scoreless in the second half. It was validation of a lot of hard work behind the scenes by a coach who seems content being precisely there.
"You become a head coach, you become everything but a coach," he added. "Especially in college, you’re there speaking to alumni, you’re doing all this stuff, you never coach. And, that’s not why I got into this profession. And I watch head coaches, even in this league … There’s just so many other hats that you have to wear; I don’t want to wear those hats. I want to wear this one right out here on the practice field, call defenses and play ball and have fun with the players.”