Why Pepper & Pats a perfect match

TAMPA -- Patriots defensive coaches are scheduled to be made available to media members after Thursday's practice, and in advance of that, Bill Belichick was asked about linebackers coach Pepper Johnson.

Johnson has been with Belichick since 2000, making him one of the few coaches on staff to be part of every Patriots season under Belichick.

What does Johnson bring to the staff?

"I'd say the big thing with Pepper is, unlike really anybody else on the staff, he's actually played in our system," Belichick answered. "I've coached the way I've coached at the Giants and at Cleveland and New York and so forth, but he's actually played it. I think there is something to be said for that, and there is certainly a perspective as a player who has played in the system relative to a coach -- even though I've coached it a long time, he has a perspective of playing in it that I just don't have, or our other coaches don't have.

"It's just different. Bryan Cox is kind of the [other example]. There is something to be said for a player who has played the game, particular played the system you're coaching, and then can coach it. He has a perspective on it, as a coach having never played in it, that I just can't give.

"They can talk about, 'When you're out there in that situation, here is what you're thinking about.' Or 'Look, Coach is telling you to do 'A', 'B' and 'C', but this is what you really have to worry about -- 'C. [With] 'A' and 'B', forget about those. Let's make sure we get this one right.' It's things like that, which happen in the game.

"Pepper [also] talks to our team -- not just defensive players or the linebackers, but our whole team about that from time to time, especially the rookies, about what it's like to play in a preseason game, what it's like to play in an NFL game and the difference between NFL and college football -- what the adjustment was for him, what he's seen from other players he's coached. I think that helps them make their transition. He brings a lot of that to us."