October 19, 2017

He Said It: Dean Pees

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
September 23, 2009

I was checking the blogs last night and I came across this post on Extra Points, the Globe’s successor to Reiss’s Pieces.

I thought these words were worth re-recording, from Dean Pees:

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Jets or whatever, you can’t let somebody run the ball. We started out pretty well there and then we got into a couple different things where they hurt us in the run. I think we got those settled down a little bit, and then the other thing is you’ve always got to take away big plays.

“I look back on the year, and I bring it up every year to the defense, the two things that always hurt you in drives are penalties and big plays. Usually if you can avoid those things and take those two things away … Now we didn’t get penalized any on defense Sunday but we gave up a big play, which was a direct correlation to leading to their one touchdown.

“When we look back at the season this year, we gave up three touchdowns and basically in all three of them there was either a penalty or a big play.”

This struck me as unwelcome news to those fans who are waiting for the Patriots to develop a pass rush spine this season.  By underlining the Pats defensive philosophy – stop the run, avoid penalties, and don’t give up the big play – Pees seems to strike down any hope for a balls-out blitz on NFL quarterbacks over the next few months. It’s just not a priority. Aggression doesn’t even make the top three.

E-mail Scott Benson at scott@patriotsdaily.com


  1. Since they’re giving up big plays, why not dial up more blitzes to see if that’ll prevent said big play?

    • That runs counter to their philosophy as blitzes are a big risk – big reward strategy. If their offense were to reveal itself as a no TD offense, I’d imagine they might alter their perspective but if the offense starts scoring as expected then bend but don’t break will stay in place and high risk blitzes will be rare.

  2. Though sacks isn’t wholly indicative of the pressure you get, it is interesting that the Pats are 7th in sacks after two games (with six).

    I’d say (in terms of Pees’s list of priorities) the penalties are the biggest issue at the moment. The defense is 26th in the league in terms of penalty yards allowed (17 for 126).

    • With the broad emphasis on the 4-3 thus far and the game plan last week of staying in nickel behind the four man rush without added blitzers it seems like the team is evolving toward a Dungy-style defense (though not as reliant on the cover 2 on the back end). In other words they rely on the front four to keep up the pressure without help and play sound zone-based coverage behind it.

      Between the heavy use of the nickel last week and the recruitment and/or development of hybrid LB-S players over the last few years (late-career Rodney Harrison, the Great Tank Williams, Brandon McGowan, the incoming Mr. Burgess) I think Belichick and/or Pees see that the future of the team is in putting more players on the field who can cover and fewer whose primary skill is battling linemen in the trenches. The Tampa-2 teams do this by using small “traditional” linebackers, but it seems like Belichick has decided that it’s less competitive to obtain a heady safety and coach him up to play closer to the line.

      The problem if course is that the front four aren’t yet consistent in pressure without blitz help. But as much as I’d like to see an opposing quarterback harassed the way Brady was last week (with no sacks, it must be observed), I don’t think the primary problem is in a lack of blitzes. The problem is in not executing the game plan that is called, and not making plays when they are there to be made (like Thomas’s failure to corral the tipped pass on Sunday). The big offensive plays may be limited this year, and my stress level appreciates that, but third down conversions in long-yardage situations are big momentum changers in their own right.

  3. Any idea what this statement was about?

    “We’re looking for everybody to step up, and everybody to be accountable, and everybody to play hard … That includes Adalius. That includes everybody. Sometimes we’re going to be putting him in positions where, yeah, he needs to make the play. Then other times it might be a type of defense where no, he’s not going to have as many opportunities as somebody else has.”

    I would have liked to know what question was asked. In isolation, it sounds sort of like Pees is criticizing Thomas’ performance.

  4. Subtrafuge, they are probably going to blitz the [beep] out of someone pretty quick.

    Reporters might as well ask for anecdotes from the old days (like Belichick pining about the 90’s Giants) then current game plans. Sure, there might be some vanilla truth in there but do you honestly expect Patriots coaches to spill their plans to our blabbermouth local pundits? I suppose it’s better to hear vanilla coaches comments than conjecture from the football-clueless ultra critical local scribes.

    Might be interesting to hear from opponents press coverage what their plans are, other teams seem to run their mouths a lot more than ours. Wait, this site does that don’t they? Bravo.

  5. The Patriots seem absolutely determined not to give up big plays this year. Against Buffalo, I was at the game and I honestly can not recall seeing two safeties play as deep as the Patriots were regularly lining up, save for last second hail mary type plays. I mean they were way back there. Against the Jets, its a bit harder to tell on TV, but I got the impression it was at least similar and they regularly had extra d-backs out there even on non-conventional nickle downs. Strange. I just keep waiting for the Pats to change a bit their defensive philiosophy the past few years and it just doesn’t seem to come. Going back at least until the time RAC left. They play solid defense, don’t get me wrong, on the whole. They were okay most of the time in 2006 and 2007 and at times last year. But I don’t know. With the way things are spread out these days and the passing and improvement of QBs and amazing athletes at WR, I’m not sure the old coverage first philosophies are as effective. Even running games these days seem to be largely based, or at least inflated stat-wise, by runs from spread formations. Its just not the same game it was 10 or 20 years ago and I don’t know if the Pats philosophy, while not disasterous, isn’t allowing any dominance at all from their defense anymore. Or at least consistently. The old philosophy of shut down the run, don’t give up big plays and then get ’em in long yardage? I’m just not sure the game is the same anymore and I am surprised BB hasn’t seemed to adjust as much as I would have liked these last few years.

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