Pepper wants to coordinate


Pepper.jpg

Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson might have to get in line behind linebackers coach Matt Patricia, when it comes to filling the club’s vacancy at defensive coordinator.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t be on the look out for that kind of job in the future.

Johnson joined his old Giant linebacking mate Carl Banks and host Adam Schein for a segment on Sirius NFL Radio this morning. And by the sounds of it, his desire to take the step from position coach to defensive coordinator has never been stronger, as the whispers of his candidacy for such a role get louder.

“It is getting more and more every year,” Johnson told the guys. “You know me, I try to stay away from the sports talk shows, I try to stay away from the newspapers as much as possible, because I get my hopes up and I start salivating at the mouth and then the phone is not ringing. But I’m prepared for whatever presents itself. I have to be, I think you have to be in this world today, period.

“But yeah,over the last couple years, I’m getting more and more calls and text messages. ‘Are you coming to town?’ Or ‘Are you leaving us?’ So I get it both ways.”

Pretty cool talk that the Sirius folks had with Johnson, which ranged from comparing the 1980s to today in the NFL, to the best quarterbacks he’s seen, to his current situation with the Patriots.


One thing he talked about, at length, was how offenses have changed the way defenses play … And how the multiple nature of teams on one side of the ball force opponents to have similar flexibility.

“You rarely find offensive teams where they are running one personnel group,” Johnson said. “They’re changing their personnel groups every other play, if not every play. So you have a lot of defensive coordinators, they’re changing their philosophy. Either they’re matching up personnel or they’ll still be dictators and running different groups out there on the field.

“In this day and this era, who is a starter? What is a starter? In all actuality, we have like 17 guys on our defense that are really considered starters. Because you have one group, then you have a different personnel group. That guy (could be) coming into the ballgame because he’s a major part in that grouping. Whether he’s out there on the first snap or whatever, I’m not quite sure that dictates whether he’s a starter or not. A lot of guys are playing 20-25 plays a ballgame now.”

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Johnson used Vince Wilfork as the example here.

“If a team starts off with four or five receivers the first play of the game, there is a strong chance that Vince might not be on the field that first play of the game,” Johnson said. “So is he not a starter? Not in our book. Not in his book. That’s just the evolution of the game. It’s changed that way. Myself, personally, I want to get him on the field as much as possible. But we have different people playing in (different packages).”

There’s another aspect of this — as it applies to the development of young players — we’ll attack in the morning. And it’s pertinent because of the 24 draft picks from 2009 and ’10 that will be at training camp.

So stay tuned for that.