Because of injuries and age, Pees had to incorporate the talents of young players like linebackers Paul Kruger, Albert McClellan and Courtney Upshaw, linemen Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee, and cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Jimmy Smith.
Pees took a lot of criticism early, but the Ravens prevailed.
"We've been used to having a group of veterans on defense, like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, who were executing at the top level, but they had been in the system for many years," Newsome said. "Dean did a great job of defining people, their roles and then putting them in situations where they would succeed.
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"It took time because we had so many young players. I thought those coaches did a great job of preparing, practicing, developing game plans and implementing them on game day around the players and what they could do."
But there were some disappointments. Smith, a 2011 first-round pick in his second year, hasn't played up to expectations. Outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, a third-year player and 2010 second-round pick, was cut Jan. 7 and third-year defensive tackle Terrence Cody has been a bust.
"Both John and I agree that Sergio could go somewhere else and still play well," Newsome said. "In some cases, those guys got hurt and didn't get a chance to practice or play. Two years ago, you could have said the same thing about Kruger and look how he has developed. Sometimes, you just need time to grow."
There are few things to complain about. Despite being hit by numerous injuries, the Ravens will play in the Super Bowl against San Francisco, which is coached by Harbaugh's younger brother, Jim.
It was Newsome who signed Jim Harbaugh to be the starting quarterback in Baltimore for the 1998 season.
"They both have an unbelievable work ethic and strong football IQs," Newsome said. "I heard when Jim was an assistant in Oakland, he was always the first and last person on and off the field. John wants to learn as much as about offense, defense and special teams as he can. I think the credit has to go to their parents, Jackie and Jack, who taught them the work ethic.
"As for the game itself, it is going to be a very physical game for both teams on both sides of the ball. Jim does a very good job of calling the plays. To me, it's going to be as physical as the Ravens playing Pittsburgh. It's going to be that tough."
Before jumping on a plane to return to Baltimore, Newsome was asked if the rumor was true that he might retire now that the Ravens have returned to the Super Bowl.
"That's not even close," Newsome said. "Really, I enjoy the guys I work with and I think we have a great staff. I really, really enjoy the players and my relationships with them and that helps me in coming to work every day.
"Of course, winning helps, too."