Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Some football fans thought Super Bowl LIII was boring.
Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees loved it.
“It was gorgeous,” Pees said of New England’s 13-3 win over the Rams. “The only thing better than that would have been 6 to 3.”
It was further evidence, Pees said, that defense wins championships.
“I was told the top 11 (scoring) offenses in the NFL (all time) have never won a Super Bowl,” said Pees, and a stat check later proved him correct. “That’s an interesting stat. … That speaks to defense.”
So, how close are the Titans to having a championship defense?
Pees was asked that question during a press conference on Tuesday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
“I think we are very close,” Pees responded. “I don’t know where we finished this year – I know we were in the top 10 in most of the categories and we felt good about that. … There are so many things we can do a little better. (But) the guys believe in the system now. I had a lot of players come in at the end of the season and talk to me and really felt good about everything and that is the key thing. There are so many different systems, and they’re all good.
“It has to be something you believe in as a coach, and more than that, the players have to believe in it, and I think our guys truly do. When you have those two ingredients, you always have a chance.”
The Titans ranked 3rd in the NFL in scoring defense in 2018, and eighth overall in total defense. The Titans finished the year ranked sixth vs the pass, and 18th vs the run.
The Titans recorded their first shutout since 2000 in a 17-0 win over the New York Giants in December.
Pees said the plan is to be even better in 2019.
Pees was asked if he wants to be bigger up front on the defensive line.
“As long as we’re faster,” he said. “I don’t want necessarily to say that I want to be bigger. I want guys that are big and fast.”
He was asked if the Titans were looking for more “wolves,” something Titans GM Jon Robinson told Titans Online last month when asked about the need for more “nasty” players.
“If you are a defensive player, you want tough players, mentally and physically,” Pees said. “You want them to be nasty, but you also want them to play within the rules and do the things that they are supposed to do, but be tough, be physically tough, be mentally tough, and all those kinds of things.
“I don’t want to speak for Jon, but defensively we’re always looking for the toughest, fastest, meanest guys that we can find that are coachable, good off the field and play within the rules, all those things.”
Pees, who has 46 years of coaching experience, joined the Titans last offseason after coaching with the Ravens and Patriots. Three of his six seasons as defensive coordinator in Baltimore saw the Ravens finish in the top 10 on defense. He helped guide the Ravens to a Super Bowl XLVII.
Pees informed Titans coach Mike Vrabel of his plans to return for the 2019 season last month.
Pees had a health concern during the season. He left the team’s November 18 game vs the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium with a “medical issue,” and he remained in an Indianapolis hospital one night for tests. He said on Tuesday he was never in a “life threatening” situation as a result of the health scare.
Ultimately, Pees said the decision to return ended up being an easy one. He said he feels good.
“I feel absolutely great,” he said. “I got a couple of things cleaned up at the end of the season and am feeling good. I feel as good as I’ve felt in a long, long time.
“It was a very easy decision (to return). What really made the decision was the players, this coaching staff, Mike, the fans, the Nashville area – it was all those things. My wife and I love it here. And I really love the players.”