New England Patriots

  • MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 09: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo talk on the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – JANUARY 09: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo talk on the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

    Bill Belichick has lost a lot of experience among his assistant coaches in recent years, and there’s a chance the trend continues next year.

    Inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo remains in the conversation among top NFL head coach candidates for the 2023 off-season, after his name appeared in a new league-wide report by Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network. Mayo, 36, has already interviewed for head coach openings for the Eagles in 2021, then the Broncos and Raiders in 2022. So he should almost certainly garner more interest in 2023.

    Other defensive-minded coaches expected to draw head coaching interest around the league are defensive coordinators Ejiro Evero of the Broncos, DeMeco Ryans of the 49ers, Jonathan Gannon of the Eagles, and Patrick Graham of the Raiders. Mayo is in his fourth season as the Patriots’ inside linebackers coach, while outside linebackers coach Steve Belichick has been the de facto D.C. as the one calling the plays on Sundays.

    Teams to watch on the head coaching front, as in strong candidates to fire their current H.C., are the Packers (Matt LaFleur), Cardinals (Kliff Kingsbury), Saints (Dennis Allen), Falcons (Arthur Smith), and Lions (Dan Campbell). In addition, it’s unclear what the Colts or Panthers plan to do after the season with their respective interim head coaches, Jeff Saturday and Steve Wilks. Like most years, there could be no shortage of suitors.

  • MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 09: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo talk on the sidelines in the first quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – JANUARY 09: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo talk on the sidelines in the first quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

  • Other Belichick assistant coaches mentioned as names to watch for the future include tight ends coach Nick Caley, defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington, and wide receivers coach Ross Douglas. But ideally, the Patriots are able to retain coaches that they believe in, so they can comfortably transition into the post-Belichick era.

    Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels, who has gotten off to a dreadful 2-7 start in his second stint as a head coach, received a vote of confidence from owner Mark Davis, so he won’t be available for a possible Pats reunion this year or next. Meanwhile, the success of Brian Daboll with the Giants and Brian Flores’ relative success with the Dolphins have added some much-needed shine to Belichick’s coaching tree.

    But those departures also underscore the rebuild Belichick’s coaching staff has gone through, perhaps an even bigger one than the roster. The departure of McDaniels and the retirement of offensive line master Dante Scarnecchia seem to have done direct damage to the offense. Losing Flores, Brendan Daly, and Josh Boyer on the defensive side of the ball led to a transition period for that group in recent years. It seems to have come back together under the coaching of Mayo, Steve Belichick, Covington, safeties coach Brian Belichick, and cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino.

    Nov 14, 2021; New England Patriots assistant coach Steve Belichick talks with outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) prior to the start of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium. Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 14, 2021; New England Patriots assistant coach Steve Belichick talks with outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) prior to the start of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium. Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

  • But now the Patriots could be on the verge of losing yet another experienced coach and former player who’s widely respected in the organization. The same reasons that will make Mayo a head coach some day. Just not in New England, apparently.

    If Mayo leaves, Belichick may have only two choices: move senior football advisor/offensive line coach/offensive play-caller Matt Patricia back to the defense, or continue to promote from within, albeit at the continued expense of experience. Perhaps he should hope things go south for Bill O’Brien at Alabama, and the former Texans head coach can return to take over the offense himself.

    Especially considering how things have gone so far with Belichick’s decision to entrust the offensive operation to Patricia and Joe Judge, whose experience has mostly been on defense and special teams, then it’s fair to wonder how much more of a brain drain Belichick can endure. There’s a chance we get our answer next season, if and when he has to scramble for a plan to replace Mayo.

    This is only the latest chapter in what’s been perhaps the most neglected narrative surrounding the Patriots over the past several years. Never mind the players, who’s going to be coaching them?

    One would hope Belichick and Robert Kraft still take that question seriously.

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  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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