Patriots

Jabrill Peppers cites ‘scheme,’ Joe Judge as prime reasons for joining Patriots

The versatile Patriots defensive back also may have given a glimpse into Judge's transition toward coaching the offensive side of the ball.

Jabrill Peppers Giants
New York Giants strong safety Jabrill Peppers (21) breaks up a pass to Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Travis Fulgham (13) in 2020. AP Photo/Corey Sipkin
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If Jabrill Peppers’s comments on Tuesday were an indication, the allure of playing for Bill Belichick and the Patriots remains plenty strong even without Tom Brady in the mix.

In his first media appearance as a member of the Patriots, the veteran safety said he “jumped at” the chance to play in New England when they came calling in free agency, citing the team’s “scheme and culture” in his decision.

“It’s no secret the dynasty New England has been. I wanted to come learn from Bill,” he said. “Wanting to come learn from the best coaches in the game…They know how to use multiples and I’m already familiar with the system. So I thought it was a no-brainer.”

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Peppers, who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and played for the New York Giants the past three seasons, was one of several free-agent signings in the secondary this offseason. He figures to slot alongside Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger as hybrid safeties capable of playing in the box or the slot while veteran Devin McCourty mans the back end of the defense.

The prevalence of the Patriots’ three-safety lineups, which could allow Peppers more opportunities on the field, was a lure as well: “It’s great having guys with similar skillsets because you can confuse opposing coaches and quarterbacks,” he said of his defensive backfield mates.

But he also named Joe Judge, his former head coach in New York and current New England offensive assistant, as a reason for picking the Patriots, saying he and Judge had “a great relationship.”

Like a lot of people discussing the Patriots offseason, Peppers admitted he was a bit taken aback to see Judge transition to the offensive side of the ball after being primarily known as a special teams coach.

But according to the new Patriot, the transition might not be as out-of-nowhere as it seems.

“Back in New York, he always leaned toward the offense and favored them a little more, so it’s not too much of a surprise to me,” Peppers said. “It’ll be interesting to see what he does on the offensive side because I know him as the head guy and the special teams guru. So it’ll be interesting to see him on that side and talk a little smack to him.”

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Of course, the fact that Judge apparently had more involvement than people realized in a Giants offense that ranked second-to-last in points and yards gained last year probably won’t quell doubters wondering what exactly Judge can do to help develop second-year quarterback Mac Jones. But it is worth noting that his experience working on the offensive side of the ball both in New York and with New England as a receivers coach may have been enough to sway Belichick to try him out there.

As for Peppers and his own connection with special teams, the speedster said he hasn’t talked with the Patriots much about returning punts yet. (New England is currently without a full-time punt returner with Gunner Olszewski leaving in free agency this spring.)

“I like to think I’m a guy they can trust back there if it comes down to it,” he said.

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