Dean Pees: Defense Isn't Defined By One Game


Dean Pees went back 12 years to New England to find a comparison to what he saw Sunday in Oakland.

In 2003, the New England Patriots defense surrendered 31 points to the Buffalo Bills in the season opener. The Patriots went on to win 17 of their next 18 games, including the Super Bowl over Steve Smith Sr. and the Carolina Panthers.

Now Pees, the Patriots' former defensive coordinator, is staring at another early-season dismantling.

A week after holding Peyton Manning and the potent Denver Broncos offense out of the end zone, the Ravens gave up a whopping 37 points to Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders.

While Pees certainly wasn't pleased with what he saw Sunday in Oakland, he's not throwing in the towel on his unit.

"One game never defines you – good or bad," Pees said. "It didn't define us after Denver. It won't define us after Oakland."

Still, the Ravens need to do a lot of things better than they did against the Raiders. And Pees was clearly still fired up about the performance.

One problem was that Baltimore hardly even pressured Carr. The Ravens only got one sack in which cornerback Jimmy Smith just ran Carr out of bounds near the line of scrimmage. The easy factor to point to was not having outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles), but Pees cautioned against that.

Pees agreed with what Head Coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week, that the Raiders were getting the ball out quickly. Pees said he didn't want to manufacture pressure with blitzes because it wasn't going to get there anyway and that would be one less man in coverage.

"Oakland was getting the ball out quick, but so did Manning," Pees said. "We knew going into both those games they were going to get the ball out quick. [There] isn't going to be any difference this week, either."

In order to stop a quarterback from getting rid of the ball quickly, you've got to cover on the back end. The pass rush and secondary go hand-in-hand. The Raiders seemed to be open all day long with rookie Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree both going over 100 yards receiving.

"[If] you can't get him to hold the ball at all, I don't care what pass rush you have, it's not going to get there," Pees said.

Perhaps most disturbingly, Pees criticized the defense's effort. Harbaugh did the same in atypical fashion, even after a loss, on Monday.

"For whatever reason, we didn't play with energy," Pees said. "The players are responsible for that and so are the coaches. It's up to us to get them to play with energy and play at a high level, and it's up to them as players to produce at a high level."

Pees also blamed poor tackling on the lack of intensity. He said it's tough to make tackles when you're not close to the player, and the Ravens weren't even close in some instances.

"We have to play like we played in the first week all the time," Pees said. "Every day, every practice, every game – that's the intensity we have to play with."

So how does a coach go about fixing effort in the NFL? Extra sprints? Benchings?

"Sometimes we have to take the role of leaders sometimes as coaches, and we have to do some things and just expedite the process a little bit and get them to play harder," Pees said.

"The old saying for years and years and years [has been], 'You play like you practice,' and sometimes, maybe, we didn't practice as well last week as we should have."

Smith will give the "wise words" to the entire team at the end of Friday's practice – the last full practice of the week before Sunday's home opener against the Bengals. He's already got the theme of his message prepared.

"We've got to take this game personally," Smith said. "Our pride as a defense is on the line."

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