Time for a house cleaning? Patriots DC Dean Pees says goodbye

There are a number of reasons why people leave an organization.  2 that come to mind are a) cash in on success for money and/or position and b) it's time to go and you're shown the door or make the call yourself.  Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, and Eric Mangini all followed the "A" path and jumped ship for HC positions at Notre Dame, Cleveland, and Jets/Browns respectively.  "Cashing in" on the success of the Patriots historic 2001-2005 Superbowl run, these 3 sought to capitalize on what they'd been part of.  To a certain extent they ultimately failed, but that's for another discussion.

Shalise Manza-Young reported Dean had been fired.  About an hour later, the Patriots and MSM sought to correct that report with the following:

"My contract with the New England Patriots will expire in a couple of weeks and I have informed Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick that I will not seek to renew it. I enjoyed my time in New England, but feel this is the right time to pursue other opportunities. I had the privilege of working with some great coaches and great players over the past six seasons and leave the Patriots with some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. In addition to the players and coaching staff, I want to thank the Kraft family, the media and the fans for all of their support."

Pees, in an interview with Boston Globe reporter Albert Breer, dives a little deeper:

"I’ve chosen not to return," Pees said. "I’m not retiring, although I might. I need some time to think about what I’m going to do. It could be a bunch of things. But I’m not leaving to go to a specific job. I need some time to see where we’re at. I don’t think it’s retirement, but I wouldn’t rule it out."

Pees, 60, was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent surgery over the summer. Soon thereafter, he had a blood clot in his leg. He’s now cancer-free, but had bronchial spasms – which have all the symptoms of a heart attack – cause a scare in the coaches’ booth during the regular-season finale in Houston, and he was hospitalized there.

Blood clots in his leg.  I can tell you from personal experience that blood clots are nothing to mess around with.  It's what ultimately caused my father's heart attack and subsequent congestive heart failure (clots have a way of traveling).  If I were Dean I'd take a hiatus, too.  But that doesn't tell the whole story of the goings on in Foxboro, MA.  I suspect if everything was peachy, Dean may have gone for and been granted, said contract extension.  Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm not.

The Patriots ranked 11th in total defense, 12th in passing defense, and 13th in rushing defense.  Football Outsiders has them at 13th.  That's not bad but for a team who prided themselves on their defensive prowess, it's anything but fine, especially when your head coach buttered his bread as a defensive coordinator.

It's hard to pin our defensive woes on one person.  It's downright wrong to do so.  However, when heads have to roll the guy at the top is the first on the chopping block, especially in professional sports.  While Pees shouldn't shoulder all of the blame, he is ultimately responsible for the performance of this defense, good or bad.

The numbers pointed out above don't necessarily indicate a defense in the throes of an epic collapse; we can save that distinction for the Detroit Lions, universally labeled as the worst defense in professional football.  But as Belichick has quoted, "Stats are for losers."  Apparently I'm a loser.  Moving on.  There are any number of reasons for the 6 regular season and 1 playoff loss of this year.  You could say the offense failed to score enough points but how would you explain New England's #2 ranking in offense by Football Outsiders or a #3 ranking in total offense by NFL.com?  The offense is not as much to blame as we think.

There were at least 2 obvious defensive collapses that I can recall off the top of my head: Indy and New Orleans.  We had Indy, we had them by the short hairs.  At 31-14 to start the 4th quarter, NE sat comfortably on a 17 point lead with 14 mins left.  Maybe better stated, as comfortable as you can get against Indy.  In what can only be described as a defensive collapse, Dean Pees and Co. allowed Peyton Manning to put up 21 points to their 3.  The defense, in essence, blew the lead.

New Orleans was a different story.  Saints HC Sean Payton abused the Patriots the way our 2007 offense used to abuse opponents.  It had less to do with skilled players and more to do with intellect.  Payton and crew knew exactly how to beat us, as if they had our playbook to study from.  If I wasn't a Patriots fan, I'd say it was a masterful job of dismantling our defense.

There is talent on this defense, it just needs to be developed.  Sure, we could use a couple high profile pass rushers and possibly CB's, but is this D really THAT fractured?  Is it really void of any talent at all or does it just need a new voice willing to kick them in the butt?  Maybe it was a bad idea to let Dom Capers go.

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