NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel has his coordinators, and he's trusting a man who interviewed for the Titans' head coaching job to further develop Marcus Mariota and the offense.
Matt LaFleur was hired as offensive coordinator and Dean Pees as defensive coordinator.
The moves Tuesday are the first big hires by the first-time head coach who himself was hired to better develop a team that just won its first playoff game in 14 years but fired coach Mike Mularkey two weeks ago.
LaFleur was the third candidate to interview for the Titans' head coaching job . He was offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. The Rams led the NFL in scoring and ranked 10th in total offense.
"Matt brings an energy and an offensive diversity to our team," Vrabel said in a statement. "He is going to develop an offense that puts our players in position to have success. Matt has worked with some great offensive minds, helped game plan on those staffs and I am looking forward to seeing him take that next step as a play-caller."
LaFleur didn't call plays with Los Angeles. But Rams running back Todd Gurley led the NFL with 2,093 yards from scrimmage and ranked second with 1,305 yards rushing. Quarterback Jared Goff ranked fifth with a 100.5 passer rating in his second season. The Rams scored 29.8 points per game.
The Titans new offensive coordinator worked as quarterbacks coach with Atlanta in 2015 and 2016 with Matt Ryan the NFL MVP in 2016 throwing for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns with a 117.1 quarterback rating as the Falcons won the NFC championship. LaFleur coached quarterbacks at Notre Dame in 2014 and was quarterbacks coach with the Washington Redskins between 2010 and 2013.
Now LaFleur, who started coaching at his alma mater Saginaw Valley State where he played quarterback, will be the third offensive coordinator working with Mariota in the quarterback's four NFL seasons . The Titans ranked 23rd in total offense and 15th in rushing. Mariota had more interceptions (15) than touchdown passes (13) despite Tennessee making the postseason.
Pees, 68, is coming out of retirement after eight seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, the last six as defensive coordinator. He replaces Dick LeBeau, who was the Titans' coordinator the past two seasons. Pees has coached 14 of his 45 years in the NFL. He has been a defensive coordinator for 10 years with Baltimore and the New England Patriots, and the Ravens ranked in the top 10 on defense in three of Pees' six seasons as coordinator.
"I am excited to add both of these guys to our team," Vrabel said. "Dean brings a great deal of experience and knowledge to our staff. I have seen firsthand how he teaches and develops from our time together, and I wanted to bring that same experience to our players here."
Pees started as linebackers coach with the Patriots in 2004 where he coached Vrabel. Pees was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2006, and the Patriots ranked in the top 11 in total defense for three of his four seasons in that job. Over Pees' tenure as coordinator, the Patriots ranked second giving up just 17.3 points per game.
Defensive coordinator for Nick Saban at Michigan State between 1995 and 1997, Pees also was head coach at Kent State between 1998 and 2003. He also coached at Notre Dame, Toledo, Navy, Miami (Ohio) and Findley. He started coaching high schools in 1973.