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Monday, January 25, 2010
Getting to know Pepper Johnson

By Mike Reiss

One of the big offseason decisions for the Patriots is what to do with the defensive coordinator job. The top two in-house candidates are defensive line coach Pepper Johnson and linebackers coach Matt Patricia.

Last week was a chance to look closer at Patricia and his background in coaching, and how he chose coaching over the more lucrative engineering field, which reflects his commitment to the profession and passion for his work. 

Today, Johnson's coaching career is in the spotlight, with nose tackle Vince Wilfork saying that Johnson is the type of coach he likes to play for -- passionate, energetic, straight-forward, and there is added respect because he's played in the NFL.

In writing on Johnson, one word stood out to me: Fiery.

In some ways, I could envision his potential hire in a Rex Ryan-type way. One of the things that was heard from Jets players in recent weeks is how they enjoyed playing for Ryan, who is more of a cut-it-loose type of personality, and I could see a similar connection being made in New England with Johnson.