Patriots Defensive Line Coach Pepper Johnson addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 28, 2010.
Q: What's been the main difference for Ron Brace this year? He looks productivity-wise like a different player.
PJ: I guess maturing. I didn't view him as being so bad last year in the Buffalo game, but some guys mature a lot faster than others. And I don't mean that as far as him being a young guy, he's never a guy that's playful, he's just learning the professional game a lot better now.
Q: When a guy comes in as a rookie do you have to fight against judging them for what they are instead of judging them for what they're going to be in a year or two years?
PJ: I don't know if judging is a good word or a word I would want to use. I think the players that Coach [Belichick] brings in there, they have a good grasp of the game. I don't think it's that hard for us to turn our techniques and focus into their game. I try to work with all the players as far as [working] with some of their attributes and [getting] them to do our stuff with our philosophy and our techniques and stuff like that. Hopefully that answers your question.
Q: Do you see some of the traits of a Bill Parcells team in the Miami Dolphins? If so, what sticks out as common threads?
PJ: Running the ball. They run the ball. They have two backs over there and [I'm] waiting for those guys to just say they want to retire. I know Ronnie [Brown] is still young in age, but Ricky [Williams] is not skipping a beat. Those guys, they have a little tandem over there. It's hard [to defend], and now with Coach [Dan] Henning it just took their game up another notch. There are so many different ways they get those guys the ball. I'm quite sure with the combination of Parcells and Coach Henning that's why they're doing some of the things they're doing.
Q: With Coach Parcells stepping aside into more of a consulting role, can you talk about the impact he had on you as a player?
PJ: What Coach Parcells had on me was 'day one.' All the draft picks, he got us into one room and he told us, "[You're] all a bunch of crap." He said, 'We won a lot of ball games around here and none you guys are really needed around here. You just join in wherever you can find a spot.' And that was the end of the meeting and he got up and walked away. He was a hard and tough cookie to deal with from day one and he kept that going until my last year. Year 13 he was still hard on me. I thought I was going to get a break after the little span in between, but he was the same person.
Q: After some players sign a big contract, there can be a tendency to slack off a little bit. Have you seen any of that with Vince Wilfork? Is his play through three games like it was before the contract?
PJ: Not at all. Not at all. Some guys are just true thoroughbreds and love the game. You have some guys that whatever drives them -- I'm quite sure that you get that sometimes in draft picks -- but Vince is not a guy who is looking for a paycheck to make his status. He's a guy that is trying to be the best nose guard to ever play the game. He's trying to make his mark in the league. So no, not at all.
Q: You mentioned Coach Parcells' style. Do you try to coach the same way or do it differently?
PJ: It's the same, but I don't think it's because of Coach Parcells. I think it's something that was just in me. Coach Parcells was a nice guy compared to my high school coach and kind-of-sort-of my college coach. He's a nice guy compared to those guys, especially my high school coach. When I got to the league some of the stuff that he was saying didn't really bother me. The best thing I found out about Coach Parcells, I think it was maybe week 10 or week 11 of my rookie year, he brought Coach Bobby Knight out to one of our practices and one of our games. Seeing Bobby Knight over there on the sideline, that's the type of guy I know I could work for. To see that those two guys were good friends, I just figured that [style] was Parcells' philosophy, [and that] he carries friends around with the same type of philosophy.
Q: Can you talk about some of the development of the younger defensive linemen that we haven't seen much from, like Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick? How are some of the younger guys doing?
PJ: I think those guys are doing well. They're making a little progress. It's tough. It's tough for a young guy to come into a situation where you have some established guys who are already on the team. But as soon as those guys, we feel a little bit more comfortable about them, and the game, the teams that we play have a lot to do with it, too, you'll see more of those guys. But they're coming along, probably a little bit more than expected.
Q: Bill Polian said yesterday that the idea of an 18-game schedule is going to happen. From the perspective of an ex-player who played a lot of seasons in the league, what would your reaction be to that?
PJ: Basically I'd just close my mouth and play an 18-game schedule. Personally, I think the guys need the four preseason games. I wish we could go out there and play a little harder for the preseason games, because there's nothing like football. There is no other way of getting in football shape other than playing football. But if you start an 18-game season, the first couple of games of the season there is still going to be not as precise football as you would want it to be, but I don't think it's really going to make much of a difference. I think that's all for the fans and that aspect of it. I don't know if it's going to matter one way or another to the players. To a guy like myself who likes to play football, it's just adding more football games. Okay, I welcome that. Now coaching football, it just means that we get down to the nitty-gritty a little faster. But taking away the preseason games and just starting the season early, I don't know where we really benefit.