Videos by OutKick
The Dean Pees effect in Atlanta is already in the works, causing Falcons linebacker Deion Jones to feel sincerely optimistic over the upcoming season.
Touted for his speed and relentless tackling, Deion Jones is up to task of building upon the career-high 4.5 sacks he accrued in 2020, with the hopes that the defense will follow in his footsteps after a horrendous 2020 campaign.
New Falcons head coach Arthur Smith is feeding off the anticipatory energy going around training camp and is encouraging players like Jones to embrace the new regime in Atlanta.
“Deion’s done a nice job as well,” said the rookie head coach. “He’s got his weight up. He’s playing multiple roles. He’s done a nice job of handling every position we’ve asked him to, because we’ll be a multiple defense. So has Mykal Walker and so has Foye [Oluokun]. There’s good competition. Emmanuel Ellerbee showed up, and then Dorian [Etheridge]. All those guys. They’re all fighting it out.”
Getting some early sparks going on defense after hiring defensive coordinator Dean Pees hasn’t been much of a difficulty given the 71-year-old coordinator’s impressive resume and blitz packages that will open up opportunities for players like Jones to get some stats up. If Jones can gauge the championship attitude from the defense, having played for the Super Bowl LI team, then the sentiment around their new DC must be telling of good things to come.
“Oh, I love it,” commented Jones, when asked about Pees in a post-practice interview. “It’s been good. [He’s] real hands on with everything, making sure we get the understanding of the defense. Flowing around, like I said, I’m loving it.”
The Atlanta Falcons hired Pees to join Arthur Smith’s staff, reuniting the two since their days in Tennessee. Pees temporarily retired after the Ravens’ 2018 season, leaving behind close to a decade’s worth of success as their linebackers coach and defensive coordinator. Pees was integral in the Ravens’ Super Bowl-winning unit from 2012-2013.
The seasoned coordinator joined the Tennessee Titans, weeks after his retirement news, until he once again stepped away from the game following Tennessee’s 2019 season.
After taking a year off from the NFL, Pees is back in the league with a new home in the NFC South that will certainly present a rebuild opportunity after Atlanta’s disastrous defense from 2020 kept the team out of competition for the majority of games. The Falcons surrendered the league’s fourth-worst total in yards (398.4) on defense.
If the Pees effect is extended to the Falcons this upcoming season, it’s hard to imagine that any team, including reigning Super Bowl champs in Tampa Bay, can stop this squad from making the playoffs. Trust Atlanta’s offense to maintain its groove with Matt Ryan, No. 1 wideout Calvin Ridley and the newly acquired Kyle Pitts.
FanDuel Sportsbook has the Falcons (+700) as the third-best team in the NFC South, which sounds like a prime time to make some money … if you’re feeling dangerous. Join FanDuel and the OutKick community to win big this upcoming season.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela