Meet the new Falcons assistant coaches

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith agreed to terms with the Falcons to become their new head coach Friday.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons coach Arthur Smith made some strides in filling out his coaching staff this week.

While Smith will call his own plays, the position of offensive coordinator is still very important. Former NFL quarterback Dave Ragone, who was Chicago’s pass-game coordinator last season, was named to that post.

“Yeah, it’s huge,” said Smith, who was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons. “Any coach we bring in here, first off, they are going to have to be great coaches and great people (with) the same set of values.”

Smith hopes to foster a free exchange of strategic ideas.

“We don’t want groupthink,” Smith said. “That’s why we are taking our time as we go through it, and we’ve gone through a huge list already, and we’ll continue to do that, with diversity of candidates and guys with diversity of thought.”

Most of Smith’s open spots are on defense.

“Those hires are very important so we’re just trying to make sure we make the right ones,” Smith said.

Here’s a quick look at the new assistant coaches:

Name: Dean Pees

Title: Defensive coordinator

Age: 71

Ties to Arthur Smith: He was Tennessee’s defensive coordinator in 2018 and 2019.

Coaching experience: Pees, 71, was a defensive coordinator with Patriots (2006-09), Ravens (2012-17) and Titans (2018-19). Pees is coming out of retirement. He coached in the college ranks from 1979 through 2003 and joined the Patriots in 2004. In 10 of his 12 seasons as a defensive coordinator, Pees’ defenses ranked in the top 12 in the NFL, including his first season in Tennessee in 2018 when the Titans ranked eighth in total defense and third in scoring defense. In 2018, the Titans allowed 18.9 points per game, the fewest points allowed by Tennessee since 2008. He was the head coach at Kent State from 1998-2003 and posted a 17-51 record. He has worked with some of the best coaches in the college and pro ranks, including Nick Saban, Lou Holtz, Gary Pinkel, Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh. Having coached Pro Football Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Pro Bowlers Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Willie McGinest and Terrell Suggs, the Falcons’ defenders will definitely listen to Pees and his assistant coaches.

Playing experience: Received a B.S. in education from Bowling Green and started coaching in high schools before moving to colleges.

Career highlights: He was on Super Bowl teams with the Patriots (2004 season) and Ravens (2012 season).

Marquice Williams (Associated Press)
Marquice Williams (Associated Press)

Name: Marquice Williams

Title: Special-teams coordinator

Age: 35

Coaching experience: He was assistant special-teams coach for the Lions for the past two seasons. He was with the Chargers as a defensive quality-control assistant from 2016-18. He was a coaching intern with the Lions helping with linebackers and special teams after participating in the NFL’s Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship program. He started out with the Bears in 2013 and 14 as a part of the Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship. He also served as the special-teams coordinator for the East/West Shrine Game in 2017 and 2018.

Playing experience: He was a defensive back at Fresno City College before going on to play at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D.

Career highlights: While with the Lions, he helped returner Jamal Agnew become a league leader. Agnew had 1,237 yards on 45 kickoff returns – the fourth-most in the NFL – while averaging 27.5 yards per return. Agnew tied for the league lead with two touchdown returns in 2019.

Dave Ragone was the Chicago Bears QB coach since 2016. He was promoted to his new role in 2019. Ragone has eight years NFL coaching experience, including spending the 2013 season as the Tennessee Titans quarterbacks coach.
Dave Ragone was the Chicago Bears QB coach since 2016. He was promoted to his new role in 2019. Ragone has eight years NFL coaching experience, including spending the 2013 season as the Tennessee Titans quarterbacks coach.

Credit: Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

Credit: Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

Name: Dave Ragone

Title: Offensive coordinator

Age: 41

Ties to Arthur Smith: Ragone was with Smith in Tennessee in 2011-13. He was the wide receivers coach in 2011 and 2012 and the quarterbacks coach in 2013.

Coaching experience: Ragone spent the past five seasons with the Bears, the first four as quarterbacks coach. Before that he spent the 2015 season with Washington.

Playing experience: A former third-round pick who played quarterback at Louisville, played with the Texans from 2003-05 and spent time with the Rams and Bengals in 2006.

Charles London (center) was the Bears’ running backs coach the past three seasons. He also was the Texans running backs coach from 2014-17. Elsa, Getty
Charles London (center) was the Bears’ running backs coach the past three seasons. He also was the Texans running backs coach from 2014-17. Elsa, Getty

Name: Charles London

Title: Quarterbacks

Age: 45

Ties to Arthur Smith: He was an offensive quality-control assistant with the Titans in 2011.

Coaching experience: He was the Bears’ running backs coach from 2018-20. He spent four seasons (2014-17) as the running backs coach for the Texans. He got his start in the NFL as an offensive quality-control coach under Lovie Smith in 2007-09. He wants to become a NFL head coach one day and needed to move on from coaching running backs. Coaching quarterbacks is considered a better path to becoming an offensive coordinator and then possibly a head coach.

Playing experience: London played running back at Dunwoody High and Duke.

Career highlights: He coached 1,000-yard running backs in Arian Foster, Lamar Miller, Jordan Howard and David Montgomery. Last season, Montgomery was fifth in yards from scrimmage with 1,508. Montgomery and the Saints’ Alvin Kamara were the only running backs in the NFL with more than 1,000 rushing yards and more than 400 receiving yards in 2020.

Name: Dwayne Ledford

Title: Offensive line

Age: 44

Coaching experience: Comes from the college ranks. He was with Louisville for the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator/offensive line. Ledford had spent the three previous seasons at N.C. State as their offensive line coach and run game coordinator. The Wolfpack had one of the ACC’s top offensive lines under Ledford which included first-team Associated Press All-American center Garrett Bradbury, who was drafted 18th overall by the Vikings in 2019.

Playing experience: Ledford, a journeyman center in the NFL, played for the 49ers (1999-2000; 2003-04), Jaguars (2000), Panthers (2001), Browns (2005) and Saints (2006). Played defensive line at East Carolina before switching to the offensive line as a senior and played left tackle.

Career highlights: Helped to turn around Louisville’s offensive line. Also, he coached Mehki Becton, who went 11th overall to Jets in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Falcons linebackers coach Frank Bush. (credit: New York Jets)
Falcons linebackers coach Frank Bush. (credit: New York Jets)

Name: Frank Bush

Title: Linebackers

Age: 58

Ties to Arthur Smith: He coached linebackers from 2011-12 with the Titans.

Coaching experience: A long-timer of 29 years coaching in the NFL, most recently was with the New York Jets. Bush, a native of Athens, played at Clarke Central High and then was a three-year starter at N.C. State. He was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL draft and played two seasons there. He became an Oilers assistant in 1992 after working as a college scout for the team.

Playing experience: He played 19 games in the NFL and made 14 starts for the Oilers. His career was cut short after a narrow spinal canal was discovered that made it too risky to continue playing.

Career highlights: He was linebackers coach for the Broncos when they won Super Bowl XXXII over Green Bay and Super Bowl XXXIII over the Falcons.

Time runs out for Falcons tight end Justin Peelle (left) and center Todd McClure (right) as they lose 17-14 to the Saints at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Monday, Dec. 27, 2010.
Time runs out for Falcons tight end Justin Peelle (left) and center Todd McClure (right) as they lose 17-14 to the Saints at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Monday, Dec. 27, 2010.

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Name: Justin Peelle

Title: Tight ends

Age: 41

Coaching experience: He was the tight ends coach for the Eagles for the past six seasons. Peelle helped to develop hree-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz. Under Peelle, the Eagles’ tight ends recorded the most receptions (417) and receiving yards (4,388) of any team in the NFL over the past three seasons.

Playing experience: He was drafted by the Chargers in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL draft. He played for 10 seasons with the Chargers (2002-05), Dolphins (2006-07), Falcons (2008-10) and 49ers (2011). He finished his career with 123 receptions for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns in 151 career games.

Career highlights: He was on the Eagles staff that won Super Bowl LII over the Patriots.

New Falcons defensive line coach Gary Emanuel was with the Colts for six seasons (2012-2017) (Credit: The Indianapolis Colts)
New Falcons defensive line coach Gary Emanuel was with the Colts for six seasons (2012-2017) (Credit: The Indianapolis Colts)

Name: Gary Emanuel

Title: Defensive line

Age: 62

Coaching experience: He was a defensive line coach for the 49ers (2005-06), the Colts’ (2012-17) and the Giants (2018-19). With the Giants, defensive end Markus Golden had 10 sacks in 2019 becoming the first New York Giant to record double-digit sacks in a season since 2014. The Falcons haven’t had a double-digit sacker since the 2016 season. In the college ranks, he helped develop defensive end Ryan Kerrigan at Purdue.

Playing experience: No NFL experience.

Career highlights: During his time with the Colts they won three division titles and appeared in one AFC Championship game.

New Falcons senior assistant Steve Hoffman. (Credit: Tennessee Titans)

Name: Steve Hoffman

Title: Senior assistant

Age: 62

Ties to Arthur Smith: He was special-teams coordinator with the Titans in 2017.

Coaching experience: Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson brought Hoffman with him from University of Miami to Dallas in 1989 as their kicking coach. He stayed with the Cowboys for 16 seasons and his specialists set 15 franchise records. He’s also been an offensive and defensive quality control assistant.

Playing experience: He was punter for the Washington Federals in the USFL, but couldn’t make an NFL roster. Spent time with the Washington Football Team, Seahawks and Saints.

Career highlights: He was on the Cowboys staff when they won Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII and XXX.

New Falcons assistant coach Matt Pees. (Credit: Atlanta Falcons)
New Falcons assistant coach Matt Pees. (Credit: Atlanta Falcons)

Name: Matt Pees

Title: Defensive quality control

Age: 40

Ties to Arthur Smith: He was a quality-control assistant for Tennessee in 2017-2018.

Coaching experience: He was a head coach at Findley (Ohio) High last season. He helped with the defensive line in Tennessee. He has seven years of high school coaching experience.

Playing experience: He has no NFL experience.

Career highlights: Working with his father, Dean Pees, for two seasons in Tennessee.

Falcons’ 2021 draft position

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

2. New York Jets

3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)

4. Falcons

5. Cincinnati Bengals

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