Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson addresses the New England media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 16, 2010.
Q: Could you give an overall thought to how the defensive line played against the Steelers, particularly the pressure they brought?
PJ: Moving on past the Steelers, we're so focused on the Colts right now. I don't really have any comments about the Steelers.
Q: How does the way that the Colts run the ball alter what you guys will do along the defensive line?
PJ: Those guys have really done well as far as replacing some offensive lineman in the past, and still running the stretch and zone run well. We have to play the guys that are blocking us, not anything different. It's still football. We have to play the blockers and defeat the blockers, but they make it tough because they work so well with each other.
Q: Can you talk about what's made Vince Wilfork so versatile and effective in moving along the defensive line?
PJ: Vince is our guy, as far as on the defensive line. He is a defensive lineman, and pretty much that's what Coach [Bill] Belichick brings in here. He tries not to get a guy that can just play one position. If you remember when Vince was a rookie [he] played the left defensive end. He never really experienced the right side of the ball with us, but he had played it in his college career. Using his knowledge of the game, and moving him around a little bit. Pretty much all of our guys are versatile like that.
Q: What's the best part of moving Vince to end? Is it getting your strength on their strength? What does that gain you? PF: We can do a lot of different things. It all depends on the situation and the teams that we plan [for]. Just moving him around so that teams can't just focus on, 'hey he's going to be at nose, so we can have a lot of doubles and game plan him that way. If they are game planning him.' It can also just show his value to us.
Q: How do you feel some of your young players are progressing, such as Brandon Deaderick and Ron Brace?
PJ: I think all those guys are doing well. [They] took some baby steps there for a little while, but I think they're all doing well. They're trying. Speaking of those two guys, I just saw them. They're both over here watching film and trying to get ahead and stay on pace with everybody else. Ron has had a year to adjust to the pro career, and now Deaderick, he's learning. It's a process for him. It's different for those guys. But they're trying. That's one thing that we do a decent job around here is trying to get the guys who make the adjustment from college football to the pro football, and get everybody on the same page because we're going to need them.
Q: What's the process like for you on a week-to-week basis? I don't think any position changes as much as the defensive line. I think it's been different every week. What goes into that decision making process for you, and when do you know who you'll have to use?
PJ: My job is to prepare them all. The way I look at it, I think all my guys are decent enough to play in the ballgame. Whoever gets the draw from Coach Belichick, gets the draw and it's my job to prepare them all. I get them all prepared.
Q: For a guy like [Ron] Brace in particular, he was inactive three weeks ago and then he comes in and plays well. How does he handle the back and forth? Is that all a matchup thing, where he ends up playing?
PJ: Yes and no. We take each opponent differently. Some guys match up well against this time, and some guys match up better against another team. Ron Brace is trying to grow into a strong professional, and that's some of the things that we ask of him during the course of the year. Instead of sitting around pouting, he likes playing football. Whether he plays two plays or he plays 20 plays, he's out there trying to do his best.
Q: We often talk about match ups in the media, but as a defensive line coach, what's your feel for the Wilfork, Jeff Saturday match up? What does Saturday do well, and how to you view that match up?
PJ: With the Colts offensive line, you can say that's a match up, but it's not really a match up because they all work well with each other. In a sense, that's what we're trying do with moving some guys around. They all work well with each other. What Jeff Saturday brings to the table is he's a quick guy, he's a strong guy, and he's a very smart offensive lineman. He knows what he's capable of, and I'm quite sure he does a lot of studying of Vince Wilfork and some of the defensive lineman that he's going to encounter from the guard position to the guard position. He prepares himself to whether he's going to cut a guy off, whether he's going to down block, cut block; he's very versatile like that. There's not one thing that I think he really excels at, but at the same token, I don't think he has a weak spot where we can just pick on him. He's good at the things that they ask him to do.
Q: Does he remind you of anyone that you played against?
PJ: No. That is kind of hard to picture some of these players playing when I was playing.