Friday, October 3, 2008

Asked and answered: Dean Pees, Patriots defensive coordinator

Dean Pees has been on both sides of the spread-out, option offense that the Miami Dolphins threw at the Patriots two weeks ago -- when he was the head coach at Kent State, he ran that same offense with then-quarterback (and now Cleveland Browns kick returner) Josh Cribbs.

The focus for Pees' defense during the bye week has been making sure the 49ers don't do to his defense what the Dolphins did two weeks ago.

What sort of challenge does the San Francisco offense present?
"It's always a big challenge. They like to get the ball downfield in the passing game. (Frank) Gore is one heck of a back. You hear a lot about a lot of players around the league, but I'm telling you, this guy is a really talented back. (Mike) Martz has always had a great attack on offense, really likes to get the ball downfield, spreads you out, does a lot of different things, so it's always a challenge for a defense."

They seem to be a team that doesn't panic in third-and-long; what do you do to counter that?
"Martz's offense, he's always been a guy, whether it's third down and 4 or whether it's third and 14, it seems like they've got a lot of calls -- a lot of times, offenses say, 'We don't have a lot of calls for third and 14,' but it seems like he does, and he does a good job of converting them. The first thing you've got to do on defense is that you've got to get them into those situations. That's the No. 1 thing. The second thing is, we've got to do a good job of changing things up, like most people want to do, and get off the field on third down, which we have not done a good enough job yet this year on, and that's our challenge. We've got to get off the field on third down."

Going into that Miami game, is the option something that if you don't have something prepared for it, it's difficult to adjust to on the fly?
"That's true of any offense; anytime somebody gives you a different wrinkle, you've got to adjust to it. That's our job. They did a good job; I give Miami a lot of credit for having a little bit of a scheme to come in and give us a different look. It's my job, though, as a coordinator, to do a better job of getting the adjustments to our guys quicker. We finally got it adjusted, but I needed to do a better job of getting it quicker, and I take responsibility for that. The players, when we do get it adjusted, need to do a better job of tackling it. We gave up a couple of plays that we actually had stopped; we just didn't tackle it. That was not the case early on. They caught us. I give them credit; I take responsibility. We've got to get it handled quicker. I've got to do a better job, and the players have got to do a better job. ...

"The first couple of times, yeah, but then we got it fixed, and we've got to do a better job of tackling it. On the long run, we had (Ronnie Brown) stopped; we just missed some tackles on that last 63-yarder. It's a combination of both, but it's my job as coordinator to get a stop."

Not that it was enjoyable, but was it a good learning experience for you?
"It's like anything -- you have good days, and you have bad days, and I wouldn't say that was one of my better days. I wouldn't say that was one of our better days on defense, period. You try to cover all the bases, like you do on offense, covering all the blitzes, and there's always going to be something that comes up. It's how you adapt to that and how you adjust to that. Moving forward, hopefully, we'll do a better job against it."
Is that, conceptually, similar to what's taking over the college game?
"One thing about being a coordinator in college for all those years is that I've seen it; having been a head coach, we ran it with Cribbs as a quarterback at Kent State. I know a little bit about it, but it's a lot more than that. It'd take my whole interview to sit here and explain it to you."

How would you assess the team's pass rush through these three games?
"Kind of like the way we've played defense: Inconsistent. That's been typical of what we've done in the first three games. We've played well at times, and we've played poor at times. We've just got to learn to be more consistent, whether it be pass rush, whether it be tackling, whether it be deep balls, third down, all those things. We've been good at times; we've been not so good at times. We've just got to learn to be more consistent, which is what we've been in the past. We've got to get back to that."

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