Former New Orleans Saints defensive line coach John Pease, who served in the capacity with the club in two separate stints (1986-94, 2004-05) over 11 seasons, died Monday at the age of 77.
An 18-year NFL coaching veteran, who worked 37 years in the college and professional ranks, Pease brought a high-energy approach fused with toughness to the position group he coached most. The former University of Utah standout wingback coached in the college ranks for 14 seasons before linking up with future Saints Coach Jim Mora on his staff with the USFL's Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars from 1983-85. Mora brought Pease to New Orleans in 1986 where he was a member of a defensive staff that finished ranked in the top five in opponent net yards per game three times, four times in the top five in run defense as his ends and nose tackles helps stop the run and take on blockers for the team's famous "Dome Patrol" group of linebackers.
"For 11 years, John Pease played an integral role on our coaching staff and developed numerous outstanding players at his position group," Saints Owner Gayle Benson said. "Not only was he an excellent football coach, but he will also be remembered for his warm and engaging personality, his strong character, and his love for both his players and his family. We will always be grateful for John's contributions to the Saints. Our prayers are with the Pease family."
Defensive end Frank Warren recorded 40 sacks under Pease's tutelage, while Jim Wilks also provided a steady presence. In 1989, New Orleans selected an end in Wayne Martin with the 19th pick in the draft and in his fourth season under Pease's tutelage in 1992, he developed by recording 15.5 sacks to lead the team and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1994 with 10 takedowns. All three players are in the Saints Hall of Fame
Pease served in the positions of assistant head coach, defensive line coach, and defensive coordinator (2002) in Jacksonville from 1995-2002, where the Jaguars reached the AFC Championship two times. He returned to the Saints in 2004 and again in two seasons did solid work with a pair of developing defensive ends in Charles Grant and Will Smith. Grant had 10.5 sacks in 2004 under Pease's firm, but fair tutelage. The late Smith posted 7.5 sacks as a rookie in 2004 when he was selected to the PFWA All-Rookie Team and posted 8.5 takedowns in 2005, setting the basis for a career that produced 67.5 sacks, 20 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries as he joined the Saints Hall of Fame in 2016 and the club's Ring of Honor in 2019, both honors posthumously.
Pease teams reached the playoffs eight times in his NFL assistant coaching career, four with New Orleans and four with Jacksonville.
Pease, who had made his home in Salt Lake City in recent years, served as assistant head coach/defensive line at the University of Utah from 2009-10 and served as defensive coordinator/defensive line for the Utes in 2015, coming out of retirement twice to work with his alma mater, which has become an ascending program in the Pac-12.
John and his wife Chris, had two daughters, Tracy and Kristen, and four grandsons.