Ravens promote Pees to defensive coordinator, retain Cameron

January 27, 2012 | Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens made official on Friday what had been anticipated for several days with the promotion of linebackers coach Dean Pees to defensive coordinator and the retaining of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for the 2012 season.

Pees takes the place of former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who was hired as the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts earlier in the week. The 62-year-old Pees spent the last two seasons as the linebackers coach in Baltimore after serving as the defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots from 2006 to 2009.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to be a defensive coordinator in this league — or at any level — but it’s especially humbling to be one for the Baltimore Ravens,” said Pees, who will take the reins of a unit that allowed the third-fewest points and yards in the league. “The strong tradition here throughout the years, and especially right now, I can’t say enough about our defensive room and what it’s like to even be a part of that.”

The new coordinator ran a similar system in New England to what the Ravens have run over the last several seasons, but Pees quipped that he’s a bigger fan of Baltimore’s defensive scheme. Entering his 40th season in coaching, Pees is looking forward to working with a defense with a unique personality and doesn’t plan on changing what the Ravens defense has been in recent seasons.

Though he doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve as noticeably as Pagano, Pees has earned positive reviews from veterans such as Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson over his two seasons in Baltimore.

“The tradition of this defense will continue and it will flourish and it will get even better,” Harbaugh said.

While the decision to promote from within to fill the defensive coordinator job was not surprising — coach John Harbaugh confirmed the Ravens did not look outside the organization to fill the position — the Ravens’ preference to keep Cameron will raise more than a few eyebrows among the many critics of an inconsistent Baltimore offense. The Ravens finished 15th in yards per game and 12th in points scored in 2011.

Many speculated Cameron would not return unless the Ravens advanced to the Super Bowl, but the coordinator was reassured by general manager Ozzie Newsome that his expiring contract would be renewed and he would be returning for a fifth season in Baltimore.

“Obviously, we’ve got a lot of unfinished business,” said Cameron, whose contract terms are still in the works. “Our focus will be the same: getting better. I think we got better in some areas, but we’ve got some areas we need to continue to improve in. It’s exciting.”

Cameron’s relationship with quarterback Joe Flacco has come under scrutiny over the last few seasons, with growing speculation the two have not shared the same visions for the Baltimore offense. However, Cameron has a strong relationship with Harbaugh, who has been pleased with his offensive coordinator over the last four seasons.

Both Harbaugh and Cameron pointed to the dramatic changes made to the offense without the benefit of a full offseason to adjust. Key veterans such as wide receiver Derrick Mason and tight end Todd Heap were cut just days before the start of training camp. The offensive line also featured only two starts playing the same position at which they played in 2010 while shifting to a zone-blocking scheme to improve the running game.

“It was a forgone conclusion to me,” Harbaugh said about the decision to keep Cameron. “If you look at the way our offense played this year and the job our players did on offense and our coaches did, I was excited about it.”

Though Cameron will continue to be the architect of the Ravens’ offensive, the Ravens will evaluate the infrastructure of the offensive coaching staff to create more productivity in 2012. Harbaugh confirmed the Ravens will consider hiring a quarterbacks coach after the position went unfilled after Jim Zorn was fired following the 2010 season.

The Ravens are still in the process of filling Pees’ vacated position as the linebackers coach.