New Titans coordinators come from very different backgrounds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s new coordinators each saw opportunities by joining Mike Vrabel’s first Titans staff — though they looked at the situation from completely different vantage points.

For offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, 38, coming to the Titans from the Los Angeles Rams marks the next step in his coaching career.

Meanwhile, 68-year-old defensive coordinator Dean Pees actually ended a two-week retirement from coaching to head up the Titans’ defense.

“This is something when you get into the coaching profession, you’re always looking for the next step,” said LaFleur, who served as the Rams’ offensive coordinator in 2017, as Los Angeles went from the NFL’s lowest-scoring offense in 2016 to the highest-scoring last season. “In L.A., I think Sean McVey is one of the best play callers there is in the NFL, and I don’t see him giving that up anytime soon. To get this opportunity, I couldn’t be more excited.”

LaFleur was allowed out of his Rams’ contract in part because he will get the chance to be a play-caller with the Titans. Head coach Sean McVey handled the play-calling duties in Los Angeles.

LaFleur plans on opening up the Titans’ offense and trying to accentuate what quarterback Marcus Mariota does well as part of that.

“He’s as coachable as they come,” LaFleur said. “That really stood out to me. We’re still kind of going through and trying to evaluate what each one of these guys does well, and we’re going to try and tailor our offense to our guys’ abilities.”

LaFleur said Mariota, who struggled with 13 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions last year, has what he looks for in a quarterback.

“You can see the talent he possesses. . Some of things that we’ll be working on with him — and you never know what a guy has been taught in the past — but we’re going to be extremely detailed with his fundamentals and his footwork, because I think that leads to more consistent quarterback play,” LaFleur said.

Pees, a 45-year coaching veteran, had retired at season’s end as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. But he said he began to second-guess the decision and was encouraged by his family after Vrabel called and asked him to become his defensive coordinator. Pees was Vrabel’s linebackers coach and later his defensive coordinator when Vrabel played for New England.

“When Mike called, it kind of got us reassessing where we were and did we really want to stay retired, and to be honest with you, my kids and my wife were super excited about it,” Pees said.

Joining the Titans marks the second time Pees will now work under a player he previously coached. Ravens coach John Harbaugh played for Pees in college

“Mike convinced me. I felt very humbled that a guy that I coached would ask me to come back be persistent on me coming here,” Pees said. “The other part of it was it was Nashville. We love this city. Whenever we’ve been here, we’ve loved this place. And also looking at the Titans and how they’ve been playing. The arrow is pointed very much up.”


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