Falcons hire three coordinators

Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees instructs players, including free safety Kevin Byard (31), during an organized team activity at the Titans' NFL football training facility Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees instructs players, including free safety Kevin Byard (31), during an organized team activity at the Titans' NFL football training facility Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Falcons coach Arthur Smith is starting to fill out his coaching staff.

Dean Pees (defensive coordinator) Dave Ragone (offensive coordinator) and Marquice Williams (special-teams coordinator) were hired Thursday.

Also, the Falcons retained wide receivers coach Dave Brock.

“We’re still in the process,” Smith said Tuesday when asked about his staff. “We’ll take our time. We’ve interviewed multiple people for coordinator spots and staff, and like I said, we will take our time.”

Clearly, it didn’t take as long as the rookie head coach had anticipated.

Pees, 71, was a defensive coordinator with Patriots (2006-09), Ravens (2012-17) and Titans (2018-19).

Pees is coming out of retirement. He was on Super Bowl teams with the Patriots (2004 season) and Ravens (2012 season). 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, including his first season in Tennessee in 2018 when the Titans ranked eighth in total defense and third in scoring defense.. That season, 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.

Smith said he didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into the 4-3 or 3-4 defense, but Pees has used the 3-4. The Falcons have played a 4-3 base defense under their past four coaches.

“We want to be adaptable,” Smith said. “That will be a big thing here. We will play to the strengths of our team, but we want to be flexible and adaptable, and that’s one thing we are looking for schematically as we go through this process of hiring coaches.”

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

Ragone was the Bears’ pass-game coordinator. A former third-round pick who played quarterback at Louisville, Ragone was with Smith in Tennessee in 2011-13. Smith has said that he will call his own plays.

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

Panthers wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson also interviewed for offensive coordinator. Under the revised Rooney Rule, minority candidates also must be interviewed for coordinator-level positions.

Williams spent the past two seasons with the Detroit Lions, where he was an assistant special-teams coach. He also coached for three seasons on the Chargers’ staff.

“Excited and grateful,” Williams wrote on Twitter.

Brock completed his fourth season with the Falcons in 2020. He coached wide receivers in 2018 and 2020, running backs in 2019 and was an offensive assistant in 2017. He was the assistant head coach at North Carolina during Smith’s final season in 2005.

Charles London, who has been running backs coach for the Bears, is set to be named the quarterbacks coach, according to NFL Media.

“We have a certain standard we want to play,” Smith said. “We’re going to play physical and with great effort. I know a lot of people say that, but that will be our hallmark. We’ll adapt to the personnel we have. Always dealing with different injuries and circumstances that pop up. We’ll be adaptable and adapt to whoever’s there.”

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

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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