Following one of the worst defensive performances in recent memory, against an offense that was ranked dead last in yards and second-to-last in points last year, fans were calling for Dean Pees’ head. It makes sense. There are plenty of talented players on his side of the ball, and Pees failed to make use of them. The Ravens generated absolutely no pass rush, and the secondary was letting receivers run wide open, which has earned the unit the nickname of “Swiss Pees” for the week here at RSR.
Calls for his firing necessarily lead to one question: who would succeed Dean Pees as defensive coordinator?
Some fans want the answer to that question to be Jim Schwartz. But I’m here to tell you that isn’t an option, at least not before the Ravens are out of playoff contention.
If Schwartz were to take over the defensive coordinator job, you would be asking him to learn Pees’ system, the terminology, the strengths and weaknesses of each player, and the personalities of every defender. On top of that, he would need to get to know all of his coaches, including Clarence Brooks, Ted Monachino, and Chris Hewitt (among others), and learn how they have coached their respective units.
There simply isn’t enough time to deal with all of that.
Don’t believe me? There has only been one instance of an outside hiring midseason, and it was for a historically bone-headed move that led to the Miracle at the Meadowlands. From former RSR writer and very knowledgeable NFL historian, Kurt Backert:
“In 1978 with the 5-6 Giants leading the 6-5, Eagles 17-12, the Giants had the ball with less than a minute left, and the Eagles had no timeouts. Instead of having QB Joe Pisarcik take a knee, offensive coordinator Bob Gibson called for Pisarcik to hand off to veteran fullback Larry Csonka. Pisarcik’s handoff was botched, the ball bounced off Csonka’a knee and bounced off the Meadowlands turf into the waiting arms of Herman Edwards who ran the ball into end zone for a 19-17 Eagles win. The Giants lost three of their last four to miss the playoffs, the Eagles would go 2-2 and make the playoffs at 9-7, for the first time since 1960.
After the game, co-owners Wellington Mara and his nephew, Tim Mara, who did not get along, fought about what to do. Tim wanted the head coach John McVay fired, while Wellington, who hired McVay, opted to fire the man who made the call, Gibson. Tim demanded that if McVay stayed that he could not call plays the remainder of the year. Wellington agreed and brought in well-respected and liked Bill Austin, a former player who was on their last championship team in 1956. Austin was the offensive line coach for the Redskins to 1977, but was fired when George Allen left the Redskins after 1977.
Austin was out of football in 1978 when he got he got the call to run the Giant offense for the final 4 games of 1978. McVay and the entire staff was fired except for Austin after the 1978 season. He was hired by the new head coach Ray Perkins for 1979 after interviewing for the head coaching job with new GM George Young.”
So only after one of the stupidest decisions in the NFL modern era has a coordinator ever been fired and replaced by someone outside of the organization (firings of entire staffs excluded), the obvious reason being that there is just not enough time in the middle of the season for a coordinator to acclimate himself to a new team.
What the Ravens could do is fire Dean Pees and promote either Monachino or Brooks to the interim defensive coordinator position and hire Schwartz as a consultant. After the season, they can make whoever has proven himself to be the best fit for the job to the full-time defensive coordinator position. That way you have someone who has been in the organization, has worked under Pees, and knows the players and the system in charge of the unit, and you have far fewer growing pains.
For now, I won’t be holding my breath on anything happening. This poor play will have to continue for weeks in order for Harbaugh, Ozzie, and Bisciotti to make a decision this rash. If Pees’ unit turns around and has a good performance on Sunday, all this talk will go away.
And it will stay away only until we see another performance like we did in Oakland. I’ll just be crossing my fingers that we don’t see any more of this: