The New England Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees is out as defensive coordinator, ending his four-year run as the team's defensive play-caller.
It is the first major move of the offseason for the Patriots, who lost to the Baltimore Ravens, 33-14, on Sunday, in the first round of the playoffs.
(ESPNBoston.com reported that Pees' contract is up next month and that he will not be retained.)
It is unknown at this point who will take Pees' place, though it has been believed by many who follow the team that linebackers coach Matt Patricia is next in line to run the defense. Romeo Crennel, the Pats' former DC, just signed on this week with the Kansas City Chiefs to be their defensive coordinator, and Al Groh, who was on Belichick's staff in Cleveland and was recently released as head coach at Virginia, recently interviewed with the Dolphins for their open DC spot.
Though the 60-year old Pees was in the coaches' box for much of the season, he was the primary play-caller during games. However, it was Belichick who drew up the game plans before each game and was calling the defensive plays in crunch-time situations.
As is the case with most assistant coaches in New England, Pees was largely out of the spotlight, though his hospitalization for shortness of breath in Houston earlier this month garnered him the type of attention he didn't want. Pees was released from the hospital the next day and back at work that night.
Pees came to New England in 2004 as the team's linebackers coach, his first NFL gig after a long career in the college game. He was the head coach at Kent State for six years when he began thinking that he might be ready for a new challenge -- the youngest of he and wife Melody's six children was about to graduate from Kent State (they had received free tuition while Pees was employed there), and during a call with Bill Belichick early in 2004, he mentioned that he would be open to a move to the NFL.
Pees and Belichick knew each other because Pees worked with Steve Belichick (Bill's father) in his last season coaching at Navy. The two spoke occasionally through the years, and at the time Pees said he was thinking about a move, Belichick had an opening at linebackers because Rob Ryan had been hired away by Oakland to be defensive coordinator.
Two years later Pees was elevated to defensive coordinator after Eric Mangini left to lead the Jets.