The Buffalo Bills have hired five-time Super Bowl winner Pepper Johnson to coach the defensive line and former Minnesota aide Fred Pagac to coach linebackers, the team announced late Friday.
Johnson spent the past 14 seasons as an assistant with the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick but resigned from the job 10 days ago.
Johnson, 49, won three Super Bowl rings as a Pats aide and two as a player for the New York Giants. He played 12 seasons as a linebacker in the NFL. He was a starter for the Giants’ 1990 team that defeated the Bills in Super Bowl XXV. He started 153 of 198 NFL games, went to two Pro Bowls and made first-team All-Pro in 1990.
Johnson brings to the Bills credentials that figure to command respect from Buffalo’s veteran defensive line. He served as inside linebackers coach for the Pats from 2000 to 2003. He was defensive line coach from 2004 to 2011. He went back to linebackers coach the past two seasons.
Belichick released the following statement after Johnson resigned: “I am proud and honored to have spent more years of my career with Pepper Johnson than any other player or coach. Of all the people I coached or worked with, nobody has more passion and love for the game than Pepper. His energy and wisdom for football knows no limits. Pepper made me a better coach and person and helped create some of the greatest moments of my career.”
Johnson also released a statement upon his departure from the Pats. It read, in part: “Football is my life. From putting my body on the line, my hand in the dirt, to teaching others to do the same, this will continue for me. ... So as I soak in this new day and embark on wherever my new path takes me, I shall embrace this new chapter in my life.”
The Bills lost defensive line coach Anthony Weaver last week when he left to join the staff of new Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine, Bills defensive coordinator last season.
Pagac (pronounced PUG-itch) served the past eight years as an assistant with the Minnesota Vikings. The 59-year-old was Vikings defensive coordinator in 2012 but was demoted back to linebackers coach last season. Before that, he had stints with Kansas City and Oakland. He served 23 years, from 1978 to 2000, as an aide at Ohio State.