The long history between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and assistant coach Pepper Johnson made it surprising when Johnson left the team’s coaching staff yesterday.
And while there was no expounding on the cause of the split, Belichick did express his respect for his longtime linebacker, who played for him with the Giants and Browns and spent more than a decade coaching under him.
“I am proud and honored to have spent more years of my career with Pepper Johnson than any other player or coach,” Belichick said. “Of all the people I coached or worked with, nobody has more passion and love for the game than Pepper. His energy and wisdom for football knows no limits. Pepper made me a better coach and person and helped create some of the greatest moments of my career. He is a great player, coach and lifelong friend and I am sure he will enjoy continued success as he moves forward.”
There was a sense in coaching circles that Johnson had plateaued with the Patriots, and wasn’t getting a chance to advance himself as a coordinator.
There are also reports that he could resurface soon.
According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, there’s speculation that Johnson left the Patriots so he could work with Romeo Crennel again.
Crennel just signed on as defensive coordinator with the Texans, adding to the former Patriots vibe of head coach Bill O’Brien’s staff.