What Has Falcons DC Dean Pees Seen From Patriots? ‘They Can Change Overnight’

The Patriots will go up against the defensive coordinator on "Thursday Night Football"

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Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees had plenty of praise for the Patriots, especially New England’s offense, leading up to a Week 11 clash on “Thursday Night Football.”

Pees, a former defensive coordinator for the Patriots under Bill Belichick (2006-2009), shared his respect for the longtime head coach and in doing so acknowledged just how difficult the team is to game plan against.

“The thing that I just told our team, and told the defense at least, is that he (Belichick) can beat you so many different ways,” Pees said during a video conference Tuesday, as shared by the Falcons. “They can run the ball and win a game, they can throw the ball and win a game. I’ve seen it firsthand where they went into games and went empty the whole first quarter and went no-huddle. Now, it looks like they run the ball a lot and all these two-back formations that we haven’t seen.

“But I said don’t (let it) surprise you, that he can come out and throw the ball every down for the first 10 downs. I’m just telling you they can change overnight,” Pees continued. “And it’s just there’s been so much continuity there with him and Josh (McDaniels) and those guys, (running backs coach) Ivan Fears, they just kind of regroup.”

The Patriots will be looking for a fifth-straight win Thursday when they travel to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The New England defense has rounded into form with dominant performances against Justin Herbert and Baker Mayfield while the offense put together its best game of the season in a dominant Week 10 win in which they scored 45 points.

During that Week 10 game against the Browns, the Patriots were without lead back Damien Harris, who is questionable ahead of Thursday, and still received a 100-yard game from rookie Rhamondre Stevenson. New England has rushed for 142 yards or more during each of the four games and now boasts the league’s sixth-best scoring offense and second-best scoring defense.

“Yeah, they’re physical,” Pees responded when asked what sticks out most. “Here’s the thing about their running backs, okay? If you watch their running backs, you watch them on film, what Bill Belichick tells those guys and what Ivan Fears, who is the running back coach has been there for 20 some years, what they tell us guys is to get a first down,” Pees said. “They’re not trying to get a touchdown. They are, but they’re trying to get a first down. They don’t jump cut. They don’t try to take a six-yard gain and turn it into a 30-yard gain. They take a six-yard gain and try to make it into a nine- or 10-yard gain, and sometimes that’ll turn into a bigger gain.

“They run down hill. They aren’t looking to avoid contact. If you watch them, they are straight ahead, no fair dodging, that’s what they do,” Pees continued. “And that’s why they just grind it out, and grind it out, and grind it out. … It’s physical.”

Patriots-Falcons is scheduled for Thursday at 8:20 p.m. ET.

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