Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bills' new defensive assistants have ample credentials


Pepper Johnson was a big part of the New England Patriots' coaching purge. He's now a part of the Buffalo Bills', too.

Johnson, who spent 14 seasons as a defensive assistant in New England, signed on with the Bills this week to serve as Buffalo's defensive line coach. He held the same post with the Patriots from 2004-11.

The Bills are getting a bonafide defender in Johnson, from both a playing and coaching aspect. Johnson won two Super Bowls as a linebacker for the New York Giants and three more as a coach in New England.

"Of all the people I coached or worked with, nobody has more passion and love for the game than Pepper," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said last week. "His energy and wisdom for football knows no limits."

Buffalo also brought in former Minnesota Vikings assistant Fred Pagac to replace Jim O'Neil and Chuck Driesbach in coaching the linebackers.

Pagac spent seven seasons as the Vikings' linebackers coach, sandwiching one year as the team's defensive coordinator. With his help, Minnesota's defense ranked in the top 10 in four of those seasons and three straight from 2008-10.

The Bills seem to have recovered nicely from Mike Pettine's departure, as Pettine bolted from Buffalo after just one season as the team's defensive coordinator to become the Cleveland Browns' head coach, taking a near-half dozen assistants with him.

New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was a very good hire, and he seems to be methodically putting together a decent staff given Buffalo's rather late start due to the Cleveland ordeal.

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