Falcons’ Dean Pees: ‘Waddle is premier wide receiver as a rookie’

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) walks the sideline before game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. (Gary McCullough/AP)
Caption
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) walks the sideline before game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. (Gary McCullough/AP)

Credit: AP

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees spoke to the media Thursday.

He gave updates on the development of defensive end Ade Ogundeji and safety Richie Grant and discussed how he started the season with too much on his play-calling menu against the Eagles.

He’s since cut back the calls, but is adding as the season progresses.

The Falcons (2-3) are set to play the struggling Miami Dolphins (1-5) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Here’s what Pees had to say about the players, the defense and the Dolphins:

On the play of Ogundeji: “Well, he’s coming along. Every week getting a little better. Working really hard. Obviously, the organization saw the talent in him to draft him. We haven’t been disappointed in that area. It’s like any rook, there’s a lot to learn and you’re seeing everything kind of for the first time. It just takes a while. But I think for what we ask of him and what we’ve expected, he’s living up to expectations.”

On if Dante Fowler can play Sunday, how does that change the rotation: “Guys got have to step in and maybe even be more of a rotation guys doing it, but they all know how to do it, they all learn, you know, from the very beginning. I told you we kind of learn concepts and stuff. Again everybody has to learn how to do all of it so that that doesn’t happen that all of a sudden somebody is out and, boy, the wheels fall off because now you can’t run half your stuff. The other guys just have got to step in and do the same things we asked Dante to do.”

On what they will miss if Fowler is out: “Sure. Hey, anytime a guy is a started and he’s out, you’re gonna miss the starter. I mean again, there’s a reason why that guy started over somebody else, but it doesn’t really mean the backup guy is a poor player by any means. It means just that guy’s got some knack for especially in that, you know, personnel group that we have that we want to use him. But you know it’s just like any outside rusher, anywhere around the league, I mean, you know when a guy’s out sure you miss him but guys have got to step up. It’s not the first time that we’ve ever been without a defensive end in a game. So, it doesn’t make a difference. The next man has to step up and do it.”

On the play of Grant vs. the Jets: “Well, it’s the same thing, we’re not trying to overload him. We are tying to give him some calls that we think that fits his personality and his attributes. So we’re not trying to overload him. Like last week we played him in there some. We played (Darren) Hall in there some. We played Chris Williamson in there some so every one of them has a little different knack, has a little different ability. You try to tailor the calls to their abilities the best that you can, but without giving it away because the other team isn’t stupid either. Now, if they look out there and see (Grant) only does this and (Hall) only does that and (Williamson) only does that. They’re studying film, too. So guys got to know how to do it all. It’s up to us as coaches to kind of get them up to speed on all that stuff, but at the same time, it’s up to us and plan in making the calls to try to not put them in harm’s way too much.”

Caption
New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims (11) is tackled by Falcons safety Richie Grant (27) and safety Jaylinn Hawkins (32) during the second half Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London. (Ian Walton/AP)

Credit: AP

New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims (11) is tackled by Falcons safety Richie Grant (27) and safety Jaylinn Hawkins (32) during the second half Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London. (Ian Walton/AP)
Caption
New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims (11) is tackled by Falcons safety Richie Grant (27) and safety Jaylinn Hawkins (32) during the second half Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London. (Ian Walton/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

On Grant’s practice and improvement plan: “It’s day to day. I mean he’s a rookie. Especially on the back end, we do a lot. And, and we’ve done less this year so far than we have in the past, but we’re adding more and add more and trying to. I started to fast. You know, in the Philly game. Then we kind of backed off a little bit and we’ve kind of now started creeping back up a little bit into what we’re doing. So, but it’s like every, every day, he’s just every time he sees it, he had a mistake yesterday and it was glaring and so we’ve corrected. So, hopefully today when I watch it is not the same mistake. All those guys, you know, you learn by making a mistake. It isn’t any different than coaching. I mean, most of the stuff that I do is because I screwed it up probably somewhere else along the line and figured out that isn’t the way to do it, do it this way. So, it’s just like that same with players. ... He’s working at it. ... All you can ask guys to do is work at it hard, study it, try to do the best they can and learn it. That’s what he’s doing.

On started out with too many calls: “Well, I just think the menu that I had going into the game was probably too long. It wasn’t necessarily a particular play. I probably just had too much in for that game, we should have just concentrated probably more on just the RPO and the zone-read stuff of it and kind of left some of the other exotic stuff go. … Everybody kind of thinks it’s like well can you get this third-down package and you get this first and second-down package. Well, it’s the same dude running stuff, it’s the same brain still doing that. So if you put a lot on third down and but you know that’s still they still got an all the stuff from first down. It’s not like you’re sending in a whole new defense on third down. So I just think in the first game I probably had too big of a menu, and probably just needed to hone it down so we kind of have in the past year. And like I say each week we’ve kind of added a little bit more back because I you can tell that they start feeling comfortable with seeing the same thing over and over.”

How has the ramp up here been different than in other places where he coordinated: “Well the difference is the first few places especially, you know, New England, I took over a defense, and I may have added my own touch to it, but it was already in an established defense with an established calls. So I’m learning the same calls that Romeo Crennel ran, Bill Belichick ran. I may have tweaked some things a little bit and added something, but I didn’t change the whole package. So, now I go to Baltimore, I’m certainly not gonna change the package of Baltimore. I mean they’re No. 1 in the (NFL) when I get there. So, all you do is add your own little nuances to it and over the years after eight years, it kind of becomes a little bit different, but it wasn’t anything new. At Tennessee, it was similar from Dick LeBeau’s because because we do a lot of zone pressures, well that’s what Dick LeBeau did. All it was, was different verbiage. It was the same thing that just was called something different. So the guys kind of could relate. … Well here, it was really a lot different than what was done in the past. A lot. So, it’s like starting over and learning a whole new system, not only verbiage but the whole, how we play.”

On if he knew that coming in: “Sure. ... I don’t know if I knew it the day I got hired, but I knew it within a week of watching film.”

On if there was a specific are where Rihie Grant had to focus on to learn the defense: “Well, he’s kind of really learning in a position. We’re not really switching him a whole lot back and forth in practice. We are trying to get him honed in on one position and learning that rather than doing multiple things. I know he’s playing some safety out there, but most of the safety that he’s playing is when it’s their defense, it’s the (scout) team. Okay, so he gets a safety practice in there, but when he’s with us he’s really getting his nickel practice.”

On the Miami receiving situation: “(DeVante Parker) he’s a problem, too. They’re all kind of a problem. The backs are problems too coming out of the backfield, they’re pretty good receivers. So I mean they got a talented offense and you know the quarterback is a talented guy, another guy that can run and move around and can scramble and do all that kind of stuff and very mobile quarterback. Jacoby (Brissett) is sneaky mobile. He is like (Pittsburgh’s Ben) Roethlisberger was. He’s kind of like you would never think Roethlisberger is a hard guy to get down, but he is. He’s kind of nifty, and he’s big. Jacoby is kind of the same way. He really does a pretty good job of scrambling, and he’s a big guy that when you get in you better wrap him up because he can break the tackle. So they got a lot of weapons on offense. (Tight end Mike Gesicki) had a big game last week. The guy has got a great catch radius and can run good routes for a tight end, he’s a tough matchup. You know on (wide receiver Jaylen) Waddle is, he’s premier wide receiver as a rookie. I mean a guy it’s dynamic, dynamic talent.”

The Bow Tie Chronicles

For more content about The Atlanta Falcons

Follow me on Twitter @DOrlandoAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

Atlanta Falcons coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo

Atlanta Falcons Schedule

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington 34, Falcons 30

Falcons 27, Jets 20

Bye Week

Falcons at Miami Dolphins, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m.

About the Author

ajc.com

Editors' Picks