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Pepper Johnson wanted to get out ‘from under the shadows’ of Bill Belichick

02.04.14 at 11:42 pm ET
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Pepper Johnson said the reason he decided to leave the Patriots and take a new job with the Bills was because he was interested in “getting up from under the shadows of coach [Bill] Belichick.”

In an interview with Buffalo’s WGR 550, Johnson — who left the Patriots the week after New England’s loss in the AFC title game to the Broncos — talked about the chance he was given to become the defensive line coach of the Bills.

“My legs are still shaking a little bit. But I’m excited. I’m so excited,” Johnson told WGR 550, via the Bills website. “I always have been a fan of Doug [Marrone] and the Buffalo Bills [and it's] just getting the opportunity to spread my wings and getting up from under the shadows of coach Belichick. So it’s a good thing and a good opportunity.”

Johnson joined the Patriots as assistant linebackers coach in 2000. He was the team’€™€™s inside linebackers coach from 2001-03, the defensive line coach from 2004-11 and the linebackers coach the past two seasons. However, one day after New England lost to the Broncos in the AFC title game, he announced he was leaving the organization, saying he was going to “embrace this new chapter in my life.”

It was believed one of the reasons Johnson left New England was because he was passed over for the defensive coordinator position when it was open following Dean Pees‘ departure following the 2009 season. Instead, the job went to Matt Patricia.

“I would love to [be a defensive coordinator],” Johnson said. “In a sense, those 13 years that I played in the NFL, I graduated to calling a lot of the defenses and having the responsibility of running our defense and being an extension of the coach from the sideline. It’s a dream of mine, a goal of mine.”

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