The Patriots have to be ready for yet another major coaching departure
The 2023 off-season is underway for 18 NFL teams, including the Patriots. Which means it’s also the start of the coaching carousel. And it’s likely the Pats are hopping on that ride.
It’s already moving rather quickly for teams in the coaching hunt, and there have been notable reports relating to the Patriots. Specifically, inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, who is once again in the conversation for new opportunities outside of New England.
According to NFL insider Aaron Wilson of KPRC in Houston, the Texans are “expected to target” Mayo for an interview after firing Lovie Smith as head coach. From the sound of it, they still need to request permission from the Patriots to speak with Mayo, but there’s no indication they’d say no. This was not the only report of note on Mayo.
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)
According to Adam Schefter, the Cleveland Browns have asked the Patriots for permission to interview Mayo – but not for their head coaching job, for their vacant defensive coordinator position. The Browns fired former DC Joe Woods as part of the NFL’s annual “Black Monday” of coaching casualties.
Mayo has never been a defensive coordinator in the NFL, let alone a head coach. Steve Belichick has assumed play-calling duties on that side of the ball, despite being listed as the outside linebackers coach. But Mayo has already interviewed for head coach openings in recent years, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he made the jump to the top spot on a staff somewhere.
At the same time, perhaps Mayo comes to the realization that he should serve as an official defensive coordinator for a few years, then become a head coach. Mayo has made no secrets about the fact that he wants to be a head guy eventually. But if he can’t get that gig in 2023, he may still be better off taking a DC job than staying in New England. He’d certainly make a lot more money.
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)
If and when Mayo departs, he’d become the latest to go down the brain drain from Bill Belichick’s staff. If and when that happens, they’d have to replace someone.
They’re at least in a better situation to promote internally on defense. The obvious move would be to shift offensive play-caller Matt Patricia back to the defense, even if Steve Belichick is officially named defensive coordinator. But then they’d have to find themselves a new offensive play-caller, and that may be the preferred course of action anyway, after the Pats offense regressed significantly under Patricia in 2022.
Coaching moves tend to go fast across the league, as evidenced by the news already spilling out on Monday. So if the Patriots want to hire, say, Bill O’Brien, they may have to get that ball rolling immediately. Perhaps they already have, prior to this very article being written. But either way, it looks like they have to brace themselves for Mayo to leave.
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We’ll continue to keep you updated on the Patriots’ coaching situations, as well as the rest of the off-season, here at 985TheSportsHub.com.
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.