Pepper Johnson excited about getting out of Belichick’s shadow


Pepper Johnson has been linked to Bill Belichick for most of his career in professional football.

As a player, Johnson played for three teams that featured Belichick on their staff. After retirement, Johnson did a coaching fellowship with the Patriots in 2000 and remained with the team until last month as a defensive assistant working with linebackers and defensive linemen. Johnson was hired by the Bills as a defensive line coach as they rebuilt their defensive staff after Mike Pettine left for Cleveland and took several assistants with him.

During an interview with John Murphy on the Bills website, Johnson explained that one of the reasons for breaking the long-standing relationship was because he felt he needed to get out from under Belichick’s tutelage.

“My legs are still shaking a little bit,” Johnson said. “But I’m excited, I’m so excited. I have always been a fan of Doug [Marrone] and the Buffalo Bills, and just getting the opportunity to spread my wings, and to get up from under the shadow of Coach Belichick. So it’s a good thing, a good opportunity.”

Johnson called an eventual move to defensive coordinator “a dream of mine,” but was passed over in favor of Matt Patricia in New England and appears to feel that a lateral move now is the best way to set up a move up the ladder down the road.

19 responses to “Pepper Johnson excited about getting out of Belichick’s shadow

  1. Buffalo is getting a good man and a good coach. I wish Pepper the best of luck, except against the Pats.

  2. Good for him. As a life long Pats fan I hope he does well – except against New England. They have a good D-line in Buffalo so this lateral move could raise his profile.

    There are no longer any coaches on the NE staff who have played in the NFL. I think BB wants guys like himself – the small college scrappy type of underdog student of the game type. Not sure if that is correct way to go or not. I think a player sometimes wants someone who knows what it is like to knock heads in the NFL and know what they are going through.

  3. It’s tough to fault Pepper for wanting to spread his wings a bit. He might have wanted the DC job but he wasn’t ready.

    But you can tell Belichick is really fond of the guy for all he’s given as both a player and coach – especially given all the glowing things he said about Pepper even though he went to a division rival (well, as much as the Bills can be considered a rival to anyone.)

  4. Lots of guys who were happy to get out of Belichick’s shadow got exposed — but at least for Pepper, it won’t be as bad as getting absolutely destroyed by Keith Byars on the playing field.

  5. Pepper is a good guy and wish him success. Good move getting away from Beliboy. I Pepper him once a long time ago when he was playing for the Giants. He signed a football for my nephew and talked to him for about 5 minutes and didn’t fluff him off. A big thumbs-up for that.

  6. I love how at least half the comments on any Pats post are the same bunch of bitter beer face trolls. Sad that trolling the Pats is your main hobby. I hope you all find a life worth living in the future. 🙂

    I love Pep, and I’m very sad my two most favorite Pats assistants (Scar also) are gone this offseason but most of the Pats fans I know aren’t surprised about Pep. There were rumors he wasn’t thrilled when Patricia was named DC and those may have been true seeing as how he decided to leave. I’m glad he and BB are still on good terms though since they’ve been friends and worked together so long. I hope Pep finds what he’s looking for career wise but I still want him to be winless vs the Pats.

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