Bill Belichick Replacements: Possible Candidates Include Mike Vrabel and Jerod Mayo

Bill Belichick is out as the New England Patriots head coach. Mike Vrabel and Jerod Mayo highlight replacements, but are there any dark-horse candidates?

The past 24 hours in football have been surreal. Pete Carroll, Nick Saban, and Bill Belichick have all in some way or another hung up their coaching hats. Seeing Saban and Belichick go out simultaneously seems poetic given their friendship and accomplishments at their given levels of the sport. But who will replace Belichick in New England? The options seem obvious.

Possible Bill Belichick’s Replacements

Not many people expected the Tennessee Titans to relieve Mike Vrabel of his coaching duties. That singular move throws an extra-large wrench in Belichick’s presumed succession plan.

Jerod Mayo

Just a few days ago, Mayo would have been a shoo-in to become the Patriots‘ next head coach. Just last offseason, New England’s linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator signed a massive extension with the team.

Despite losing many key defensive starters and not going into battle with a particularly star-studded defensive depth chart to begin with, the Patriots’ defense has remained stout in Mayo’s time with the team.

Although there have been murmurs about Mayo “rubbing at least some people the wrong way in the building,” he would have remained the odds-on favorite to become New England’s next head coach.

Mayo played for Belichick from 2008-15, winning a Super Bowl along the way. Although Belichick disciples haven’t had a top of success (or much of any) at the NFL level, it would be a drift in character from Robert Kraft to look outside of the organization for his replacement.

“I love it here in Boston,” Mayo said before the 2023 NFL season. “I pretty much was raised here in Boston. I came here in 2008. It would take a lot for me to leave. This is where I want to be, and I feel the same way from the coaching staff and also from Mr. Kraft. I wanted to be here because I feel like we do it right here.”

The situation wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable if this perceived agreement between Mayo and the Patriots hadn’t kept him from coaching opportunities last offseason. He turned down an interview for the Carolina Panthers’ job a season ago.

But unfortunately for Mayo, he’s no longer the only candidate for the job.

Mike Vrabel

Vrabel isn’t technically a Belichick coaching disciple, but he played for him from 2001-08. Vrabel’s coaching career began at Ohio State, and he got his professional debut in Houston as their linebackers coach under Belichick’s disciple, Bill O’Brien.

He spent three years as a position coach and one year as the Texans’ defensive coordinator before securing the Titans’ head coaching job. With an absolutely devastated-by-injury roster in 2021, Vrabel’s leadership and Arthur Smith’s offense led Tennessee to the top seed in the AFC.

MORE: 7 Candidates To Replace Mike Vrabel in Tennessee

It remains one of the most incredible feats of the last decade. Most wouldn’t hold him accountable for 5% of Tennessee’s franchise woes since then, and the league seemingly adores the Titans’ former coach.

Vrabel’s ties to New England and his previous head-coaching success likely make him the favorite to be Belichick’s successor. He’s certainly a worthy candidate.

Josh McDaniels

Just… listen for a second.

This would be a horrific decision. Josh McDaniels has commanded many impressive offenses during his time in New England, but he has continuously stumbled over his own feet as a head coach at the NFL level.

McDaniels is likely not a realistic candidate for the job, although he very well might receive an interview, and it shouldn’t shock anybody to see him on the coaching staff in some capacity in 2024.

That is the true Belichick way. Go elsewhere, fail miserably outside of the “Patriot Way” and crawl yourself back into the arms of Saban, Belichick, or sometimes both.

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is about the only hot-shot offensive coordinator on the market this offseason. Yet, it’s incredibly important to note Kraft’s loyalty likely precludes this from becoming a reality.

Nevertheless, Johnson has been so successful as an OC that it would be a disservice to the organization not to interview him. It’s especially important considering New England’s current situation. The Patriots’ offensive depth chart is horrific, and they’re about to draft a rookie quarterback at the top of the NFL Draft.

Brian Flores

Brian Flores flamed out of Miami’s head-coaching job, but his defense in Minnesota has been revolutionary from a technical perspective. His evolution to more zone-heavy principles to pair with his exotic pressure packages made the Vikings’ defense one of the most interesting units in the NFL.

MORE: NFL Hiring Cycle 2024 — Latest News and Rumors

That shift in philosophy is Belichickian. The old ball coach has consistently changed defensive philosophies as the times have changed. He’s found market inefficiencies with defensive players and found interesting ways to deploy them. Flores is not dissimilar.

But a rookie quarterback and Flores marriage likely gives NFL fans PTSD, considering how his relationship with Tua Tagovailoa was perceived.

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh was never going to leave Michigan until they won the big game. He simply leveraged the NFL level for more money from the school, and he did so with impeccable results.

But now that they’ve won the national championship, Harbaugh is a legitimate coaching candidate at the NFL level. From an egotistical perspective, the Patriots’ job will either be incredibly intriguing for Harbaugh or a hard no from the go. Someone of Harbaugh’s reputation either wants all of that succession weight on his shoulders or none of it.

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