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Falcons hire former player Justin Peelle as TEs coach, add three defensive coaches

Arthur Smith’s coaching staff is getting closer to completion.

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Falcons have announced another round of coaching hires, one featuring a new defensive line coach, Dean Pees’ son as a defensive assistant, and...former Falcons tight end Justin Peelle as the tight ends coach. That’s a fun one.

Atlanta announced Saturday that they were bringing aboard veteran defensive line coach Gary Emanuel, senior assistant Steve Hoffman, defensive assistant Matt Pees, and Peelle. They’re edging closer to filling out Arthur Smith’s full staff, with vacancies at running backs coach and in the secondary now being most prominent.

Peelle had a 10 year career in the NFL as a reserve tight end, including a three year stint in Atlanta from 2008-2010. He did quite a lot of blocking and reeled in 37 catches for 370 yards and 5 touchdowns over that span, and after retiring he moved on to Philadelphia as an assistant tight ends coach from 2013-2014 and their tight ends coach from 2015-2020. That means his stint in Philadelphia coincided with the development of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, making him a fine coach to take over that role in Atlanta to work with Hayden Hurst and any additional tight ends the team adds this offseason.

Emanuel did not coach last year, but has been coaching primarily defensive lines since 1981. His most recent stint was with the Giants defensive line in 2018-2019, but he’s also worked with the Colts, 49ers, and many different college programs. He’ll have the tall task of whipping an underachieving line into shape this year, but he should at least have new talent work with, given that I expect Atlanta to prioritize the position group.

Hoffman is presumably going to be a senior assistant for special teams, where Marquice Williams is a brand new coordinator. Hoffman worked with the Cowboys for 16 years as a special teams coach and won Super Bowls with them, and also had a stint as an assistant special teams coach in 2006 with the Falcons. Most recently, he was with the Titans from 2013-2017 as an assistant special teams coach and then special teams coordinator, where Arthur Smith would be familiar with his work.

Finally, Matt Pees is Dean Pees’ son and has been an assistant on his staff in the past. He was hired out of a head coaching job in high school to join his dad’s staff, and likely the hope is that Dean Pees can groom him to take over a more prominent role on the defense down the line, perhaps along the line.

Aside from the Pees hire, which is obviously family-oriented, this is about adding significant experience to the coaching staff. Hoffman will be a nice addition to the special teams group, Emanuel has an incredible amount of experience along the defensive line, and Peelle has done great work with the Eagles for a number of years now. Welcome the new coaches to Atlanta!