Patriots, defensive coordinator Pees parting ways

The Patriots and defensive coordinator Dean Pees are parting ways, a team source told NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi on Thursday.

Pees’ contract is up at the end of this season.

The Patriots ranked 11th in total defense (320 yards per game) this season, but they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs after allowing the Ravens to score 33 points and rack up 234 rushing yards.

That came one week after Pees, who become the Patriots’ defensive coordinator in 2006, was hospitalized in Houston. The 60-year-old complained of shortness of breath during a regular-season-ending loss to the Texans.

This isn’t likely to be the only change to New England’s coaching staff, according to NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora. Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn’t pleased with how this season ended, La Canfora reports, and also could make a change on offense.

Traditionally, Belichick promotes from within, but Al Groh is a name to watch for the defensive coordinator vacancy. Groh has strong ties to Belichick and was fired as Virginia’s coach.

Groh also is a disciple of Bill Parcells and interviewed Wednesday for the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator job, which many around the league believe will be his for the taking. Therefore, it’s conceivable that two of Groh’s closest coaching mentors could end up in a bidding war for his services.

UPDATE: Pees released a statement explaining his situation. “My contract with the New England Patriots will expire in a couple of weeks and I have informed Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick that I will not seek to renew it. I enjoyed my time in New England, but feel this is the right time to pursue other opportunities. I had the privilege of working with some great coaches and great players over the past six seasons and leave the Patriots with some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. In addition to the players and coaching staff, I want to thank the Kraft family, the media and the fans for all of their support.”

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