Pepper Johnson, who started as an assistant linebackers coach for the New England Patriots in 2000, took over as the inside linebackers coach in 2001. He moved to coaching the defensive line in 2004 and was finally named the linebackers coach in 2012 before resigning from the Patriots after the 2013 season. Johnson left to join the Buffalo Bills‘ staff, and this has obviously created a vacancy that the Patriots need to fill.
After Johnson left the Patriots he was on the John Murphy Show and said the following regarding Patriots head coach Bill Belichick:
“I know a lot of players, when they first experience Bill, they think, ‘This guy is dry. He doesn’t address anybody. Did I do anything wrong? Is he mad at me?’ I’m like, ‘Trust me, if he’s not talking to you, it’s a good thing. It’s just being Bill.’ But as soon as he stops you in the hall and starts talking to you, that’s when you need to pay attention and see what you’ve been doing wrong in the past or out there on the field, because something is coming.”
Johnson is entitled to his opinion, and if he felt leaving a winning organization like the Patriots for the Bills was the right choice then that is his prerogative. Johnson is correct that Belichick is always thinking and planning ahead; that’s a huge part of why he has been so successful, but to portray Belichick as a tyrant or jerk is incorrect. Belichick may be no-nonsense when it comes to football, but he is not a bad guy. That’s my take on Johnson’s comments.
But Pepper is no longer with the Patriots, so let’s focus on the fact that the Patriots need to fill the vacancy he left. I have heard the name of popular former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi floated around. I would absolutely love it if Bruschi, the guy Belichick once called “the perfect player,” took over as the linebackers coach. Bruschi played his entire career with the Patriots and knows and understands how the Patriots conduct their business. He respects that plus he’s a former linebacker and was an intelligent player.
But would Bruschi leave ESPN to become the Patriots’ new linebackers coach?
I haven’t heard Bruschi make a statement regarding this or even heard that the Patriots have expressed interest in hiring him, but it is less than extremely doubtful Bruschi would accept if he was offered the position. Being an NFL coach of any kind is a big time commitment and a difficult lifestyle. Bruschi is a family man who wants to spend time with his growing boys. He would not be able to spend as much time with his family or really watch his boys grow up if he became the Patriots’ linebackers coach. Staying in his current position as an NFL analyst on ESPN will allow Bruschi to remain connected to football without sacrificing time with his family. There’s no doubt that Bruschi would make a great coach, and maybe someday it will happen — but not while his boys are young. My guess is Bruschi will get into coaching in some capacity in the future, but whether he coaches in the NFL remains to be seen. Bruschi could easily coach his boys once they are in high school, and maybe that’s the only coaching he will ever want to do. I’m not sure about Bruschi’s mindset regarding the future. We will have to wait and see.
What I do know is that while Bruschi would be an extremely valuable addition to the Patriots coaching staff, it won’t happen.