The Falcons were already undermanned on defense heading into Week 15 of the 2022 NFL season. Now, they are set to operate without their top coach on the defensive side of the ball.
Dean Pees reportedly collided with a Saints player during pregame warmups at the Superdome. The veteran defensive coordinator had to be stretchered off the field as a result of the collision.
Per ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, medical personnel “worked to stabilize Pees’ neck” before he was carted off the field. As such, there was a reason for concern about the health of the 73-year-old coordinator.
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The Falcons released a statement providing an update on Pees shortly after his injury occurred. The team said that the coach was “stable, alert and responsive” and that he had been taken to a local hospital for medical testing.
The team also announced that linebackers coach Frank Bush would serve as the interim defensive coordinator in Pees’ stead against the Saints. Bush has been an NFL coach since 1993 and served as the Texans’ defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2010. He also was the Jets’ interim defensive coordinator in 2020.
Bush’s first defense in Houston ranked 13th in yards allowed and 17th in points allowed in 2009. In 2010, the unit regressed, ranking 30th and 29th in the two categories.
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Pees’ defense entered Week 15 ranked 30th in yards allowed and 22nd in scoring, so they shouldn’t look too much different with Bush at the helm. The only concern is about continuity and preparation time for him, as he was pressed into action at the last minute.
The Saints scored a touchdown on each of their first two possessions against the Falcons, so we’ll soon see if Bush’s defense can settle down as the game goes on.