Why Jerod Mayo Could Be a Disaster As Patriots Head Coach

Dec 12, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo against the
Dec 12, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo against the / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Bill Belichick regime has been toppled in Foxborough. After a remarkable 24 year run as both head coach of the New England Patriots and the team's de facto general manager, Belichick and the Patriots are parting ways. Belichick took over the championship-less Patriots in 2000 and turned the franchise into a dynasty, leading them to 296 wins,18 playoff appearances, and six Lombardi Trophies. A joint press conference with Belichick and owner Robert Kraft will be held at noon.

Last offseason, the usually clandestine operating Patriots announced that linebackers coach Jerod Mayo had received an extension. Mayo had been linked to the vacant head coaching position with the Carolina Panthers, an opportunity that he turned down when he inked an extension with New England. His extension immediately ignited speculation about his place in the Patriots' future, including a widespread belief that the extension might have come with an understanding that Mayo would be Belichick's heir apparent in Foxborough.

Months later, this speculation was validated by the reporting of ESPN's Dan Graziano:

"Sources close to the Patriots believe Kraft's plan entering this season was for Belichick to coach two more seasons and have Mayo take over in 2025. Belichick entered the season needing 18 wins to catch Shula for most career victories (regular season and postseason combined) among NFL coaches, and the thought was he could get that done in two seasons."

Dan Graziano

The Patriots' failures this season flipped the two-year succession plan on its head as the situation became dire. Belichick's expedited departure could give Kraft pause about handing Mayo the reins a year earlier than expected.

The Patriots are at a momentous point in their franchise history. In the last two seasons, only the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears have a worse record than New England. The Patriots have the third overall pick in this April's NFL Draft, a draft that could prove paramount in righting the ship in New England. The team also has the third-most cap space in the league this offseason with almost $75 million of space at their disposal. There is a very real possibility that the Patriots could turn things around quickly if they put the right people in the right positions this offseason.

But the same can also be said about putting the wrong people in the wrong positions.

Why Mayo May Not Be the Right Choice

Jerod Mayo has never been an NFL head coach, and the situation in New England has become so calamitous that Kraft and company may not be afforded the flexibility to take a chance on a first-time head coach.

It is also not your parents' NFL. The game is changing with offensive production at the forefront and defense taking a back seat. Out of the last 12 conference champions, 10 of the head coaches have been former offensive coordinators or quarterbacks coaches. The only exceptions are the 2017 and 2018 New England Patriots, led by Belichick. Mayo doesn't fit the mold of the new-age, quarterback whisperer type head coach. This years' Patriots team ranked dead-last in the NFL in points per game and third-to-last in yards per game. The pressing situation is on the offensive side of the ball.

If the Patriots do select a quarterback with the third overall pick, it will be even more imperative to have a modern offensive mind tutoring the young signal caller. Franchise quarterbacks are more critical than ever. Of the 14 playoff teams, 10 will start a first-round pick under center in their first playoff game. The Patriots need to surround their top rookie quarterback with premier offensive coaching and can't afford to have a defensive coach potentially stunt their development in the same manner as Belichick ruined Mac Jones'.

Owner Robert Kraft appears to have similar apprehensions. In mid-December, reports emerged that to become head coach, Mayo would "have to sell Kraft on who will be in charge of the offense, the quarterback's development and personnel." Maybe Mayo is able to secure an enticing offensive coordinator or somehow even sell Kraft on Bill O'Brien, but the clear preference should be to bring an experienced head coach in or a bright offensive-oriented coach.

Make no mistake about it, Mayo will be a head coach in the NFL one day, and he could very well be an incredibly successful NFL head coach. It could even be with the New England Patriots one day. A first-time, defensive coach is just not the man for the job right now.

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