After speaking with Bill Belichick, defensive coordinator Dean Pees has decided not to renew his contract with the team, which expired at the end of this season. While it is highly possible that this decision was made with or without his blessing, that is only speculation. Here is the statement from Dean Pees:
“My contract with the New England Patriots will expire in a couple of weeks and I have informed Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick that I will not seek to renew it. I enjoyed my time in New England, but feel this is the right time to pursue other opportunities. I had the privilege of working with some great coaches and great players over the past six seasons and leave the Patriots with some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. In addition to the players and coaching staff, I want to thank the Kraft family, the media and the fans for all of their support.”
Who will replace Pees as defensive coordinator?
There have been three names thrown around that make sense. First is defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, whom I’ve already mentioned as being a candidate to take over the job. Another in-house candidate is linebackers coach Mike Patricia. Pees was the linebackers coach before taking over as DC, so Patricia might be a logical next-in-line. The last name I’ve heard getting thrown around, though it sounds like a long shot to me, is Al Groh. Groh used to be the head coach of the New York Jets and coached in New England and with the Jets under Bill Parcells (along with Bill Belichick).
My pick out of the three would be Pepper Johnson. I feel that because he was a respected player, he would garner more attention and respect from the players (respect he already has from the current roster). He is also young and would bring some new ideas to the table. Johnson, to me, also seems like he would be one who could bring back some semblance of a pass rush back to the team. Anytime the camera has been on him on the sidelines he’s been animated and fiery, something this team is sorely lacking at the present time. Besides, why not continue the youth movement on the defensive ball with a young coordinator?