Why the Patriots Hired Jerod Mayo: New Head Coach Replaces Bill Belichick

The New England Patriots have named assistant coach/former player Jerod Mayo to replace Bill Belichick as the team's new head coach.

The New England Patriots named former assistant coach Jerod Mayo to replace Bill Belichick as head coach. Mayo is familiar with “The Patriot Way,” having been a player and then an assistant coach with New England for 13 seasons.

In March, Patriots owner Robert Kraft talked to NFL Network about Mayo as a future Patriots head coach: “Well, he’s definitely a strong candidate to be the heir apparent, but we have some other good people in our system.”

Jerod Mayo’s Step Forward Last Offseason

Last NFL offseason, there appeared to be signs that the Patriots were possibly preparing Mayo to be a candidate when Belichick left the team. When asked if he would be the next head coach, Mayo said, “We’ll see what happens.”

Mayo interviewed for head coaching jobs with the Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, and Denver Broncos in previous offseasons. Last January, he turned down opportunities to interview for the Carolina Panthers head coach and the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator openings last season. He cited family reasons for why he turned down the interview opportunities.

Mayo said, “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 the Kraft family.”

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The Patriots took two unusual steps for their linebackers coach last offseason. The team announced they were going to sign Mayo to a long-term extension before the deal was done. Belichick also had Mayo join the team’s interviews during the search for an offensive coordinator.

Mayo said he was confident that New England was the place where he could grow as a coach. “I’m excited to continue to learn new things — not only X’s and O’s, that’s only a small part of it. I’m just trying to be a sponge and learn as much as I can when I’m in those meetings I’m not normally in.”

Mayo’s Time in New England

Mayo’s time with the Patriots started in 2008 when the team drafted him with the 10th overall pick out of Tennessee. He spent his entire eight-year career with New England and was a team captain for his last seven seasons.

Mayo made Pro Bowls in 2010 and 2012, along with being named first-team All-Pro in 2010. He won a championship when the Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

When he retired, ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote that Mayo’s teammates would refer to him as “Bill Jr.” because of his knowledge of the game and how much time he spent at the team’s facility studying the game.

Mayo started his coaching year with the Patriots as the linebackers coach in 2019. In his first season, LB Dont’a Hightower earned a Pro Bowl spot as New England led the NFL in total defense and allowed the fewest points.

When he was hired, Mayo said, “When I was injured, I used to break down film with Steve (Belichick). Definitely, that aspect helped me out, but at the same time, this defense changes every year. So, now I’m getting back into it, learning from all the assistant coaches and coach Belichick about the defense today, so it’s good.”

The Patriots have not had an official defensive coordinator since the 2017 season. Steve Belichick, Bill’s son, has called defensive plays since 2019. Mayo, meanwhile, has remained the team’s linebackers coach through his entire five seasons as an assistant, even though his role expanded.

Mayo talked in April about seeing more about football operations: “There’s still a lot that I don’t know. I’m very aware of that. So, it’s not only about talking to Bill, but it’s also about talking to the scouts; it’s also talking to the cap guys; it’s also talking to the researchers and all that.”

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