Pepper Johnson Fired as DC of XFL's Los Angeles Wildcats After 1 Game

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2020

Los Angeles Wildcats XFL football is seen during an XFL football game, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)
Matt Patterson/Associated Press

One week into the second XFL regular season, the Los Angeles Wildcats are making a significant change to their coaching staff.

The team announced Monday it fired defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson.

"We recognize that there are issues we need to address for the 2020 season," head coach and general manager Winston Moss said. "While these decisions are difficult, we have given this significant thought. We are here to put the best possible product on the field for our fans. We thank Pepper for his contributions to the Wildcats and we are looking forward to our home opener this weekend."

Los Angeles dropped its Week 1 game 37-17 to the Houston Roughnecks. Quarterback P.J. Walker torched the Wildcats secondary for 272 yards and four touchdown passes.

The XFL regular season is 10 weeks long, with the top two teams in each conference moving on to the playoffs. A relatively short season provides front offices with slightly more incentive to act quickly if they don't like the direction their franchise is going.

The Wildcats' reaction to Saturday's defeat may not have been limited to Johnson's firing. Linebacker Anthony Johnson, who was one of the team's four captains, indicated on Twitter he was released:

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Pepper Johnson played in the NFL from 1986 to 1998. The linebacker reached the Pro Bowl twice and was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants. Following the end of his playing career, the 55-year-old transitioned to coaching, spending 2000-13 with the New England Patriots before moving on to the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets and then the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.