Now that Eric Mangini is off to coach the New York Jets, Dean Pees has been named as the new defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.
Pees will be entering his 34th year in coaching, including acting as the Patriots linebackers coach for the past two seasons under Bill Belichick.
Pees came to New England after serving as the head coach at Kent State University for six seasons. At Kent State, Pees took over one of the worst programs in Division I and while they never become a powerhouse, the Golden Flashes showed significant improvement under Pees' tutelage. Kent State's 14 wins in Pees' final three seasons equaled the school's win total from the previous 10 years.
In 2001, Pees led the Golden Flashes to a 6-5 record - the school's first winning season in 14 years. Pees' six-year tenure at Kent State made him the longest-serving head coach in the program's 40-year history.
Before heading to Kent State, Pees was the defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach for Nick Saban at Michigan State. In his final season in East Lansing, the Spartans finished 13th in the nation in total defense. This marked the second time Pees served as a defensive coordinator on Saban's staff. Saban hired him while he was the head coach at the University of Toledo and under Pees in 1992; the Rockets' defense only surrendered 13.9 points per game and posted two shutouts on their way to an 8-3 season. Pees coached at Toledo for three years before taking a job at Notre Dame.
Pees other coaching stops include being the secondary coach at Notre Dame in 1994, the secondary coach at the Naval Academy from 1987-89 and the defensive coordinator at Miami (Ohio) from 1983-86.
In his two seasons as linebackers coach, the Patriots have finished sixth and fourth respectively against the run. The linebackers have been the strength of the Patriots defense the past two seasons, totaling 49.5 sacks over that span.
This will be the second year in a row the Patriots will open the season with a new defensive coordinator. Last year Mangini took over for Romeo Crennel - who left to take the head-coaching job in Cleveland. It was expected Mangini would be in New England for a while but the Jets liked him enough to make him the youngest head coach in the NFL - despite the fact Mangini has only been a coordinator in the league for one season. Now the reigns to the Patriots defense will be turned over to the veteran Pees whose cerebral approach to the game should fit in well with Belichick's meticulous coaching style.