FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Dean Pees usually has something to say about almost anything. Ask him a question, he'll give a thought out, verbose answer.
Unless, that is, you ask the Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator about the roughing the passer penalty his star defensive lineman, Grady Jarrett, received on a critical third down late in last Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ask Pees, 73, about that -- like during his weekly media availability Thursday -- and you'll get a long, cold, serious stare. And then very few words to follow up on it.
That comes not necessarily from him, but on advice from his wife, Melody.
"No, my wife told me, 'Do not say anything,'" Pees said. "We're moving on. San Francisco week, moving on."
Happy wife, happy life 🤐 pic.twitter.com/IdXSRzds3l— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 13, 2022
It's probably a smart move -- financially, at least.
The NFL has fined players and coaches for criticizing officiating in the past. While it's not specifically listed in the fine book, what is listed as "a verbal, non-physical offense against [an] official" is a $29,785, first-offense fine and $59,575 as a second offense. It's not clear if criticism of officiating after the fact would fall into that category.
In 2018, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was fined $25,000 for criticizing officials, and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was also fined $25,000 last season after his postgame comments about game officials following the team's wild-card loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
In 2019, Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker, then-Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and then-Los Angeles Rams linebacker Clay Matthews were all fined $12,500 for criticizing officials as well.
Pees, just as Falcons coach Arthur Smith did earlier in the week by sidestepping any true criticism of officiating on the Jarrett flag, did his best to keep his paycheck in his pocket instead of handing it back out to the NFL.
The Falcons had thought they had stopped Tampa Bay on the third down when Jarrett sacked Brady, which would have brought up fourth down and given Atlanta a chance at a game-winning drive. Instead, the Buccaneers got the first down, picked up another first down and ended the game.
I've seen a lot of #NFL football in my life, but someone is going to have to explain this roughing the passer call in the @AtlantaFalcons / @Buccaneers game. I'm not sure I've seen anything quite like this pic.twitter.com/YvmekNYxG2— Scott Pioli (@scottpioli51) October 9, 2022
"The thing that hurt me the most was my team not being allowed to have the opportunity to go do what we need to do, you know," Jarrett said on his weekly radio appearance on 680 The Fan in Atlanta on Tuesday. "Like I said, nobody knows if we go out there and we go get a touchdown. I'm not saying that lost us the game.
"I'm saying all we wanted was an opportunity that we as a whole team, staff and organization earned in that moment, you know. That's unfortunate that it had to go down like that."