It didn't take long for the Patriots to move on from Bill Belichick. It appears they've been preparing for this day for quite some time.
Just minutes after it was reported that Belichick and the Patriots were parting ways, ending the most successful run for a franchise and coach in NFL history, reports emerged that the Patriots top choice to replace him is current Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo.
Patriots Rumors: Jerod Mayo Already Favorite to Repalce Belichick
It's long been speculated the Patriots view Mayo as the top successor to Belichick. A former star player under Belichick during the Patriots dynasty, Mayo is known as a players coach, who likes to have fun with the guys but demands respect, accountability and focus from his players when it's time to get down to business.
Of course, just because Mayo is the top candidate doesn't mean he'll land the job. He's only been coaching for five years and is still only 37 years old, younger than Tom Brady, though the same age as Sean McVay, who has been a head coach since 2017.
There are also other top candidates available with deep ties to the Patriots. Mike Vrabel, who won three Super Bowls with the Pats, was just fired by the Titans and has a wealth of experience -- and a track record of success -- as a head coach.
Brian Flores is also a logical option. He won four Super Bowls as a coach with the Patriots and was an outstanding head coach with the Dolphins. He's currently the defensive coordinator for the Vikings.
The point is, while Mayo is seen as the top candidate, I'm sure the Patriots will do their due diligence. It's going to be hard, if not impossible, to step into Belichick's role given the success he has in New England. Sure, the end was a dud, but he won six Super Bowls, appeared in three others and won an absurd 17 division crowns. Patriots fans won't accept and shouldn't expect anything different than fielding a competitive team year-in, year-out from the next head coach.
Is Mayo that man? Handing the reins to an unproven head coach is bold, especially with other options available. Now it's up to Robert Kraft and Co. to make the toughest coaching decision they've had to make since hiring Belichick in 2000.
More New England Patriots news and rumors: