On Wednesday, the Patriots’ newly-hired head coach conducted an introductory press conference, alongside owner Robert Kraft, before assembled media, family members and players.
The Patriots haven’t made a coaching hire in 24 years, which is nearly a quarter of a century. Mayo is an individual that worked his way up from a rookie first-round draft pick to a perennial team captain for the Patriots, and now, he’s managed to do the same as an inside linebackers coach to head coach.
Success seems to follow Mayo wherever he goes, and the Patriots are hoping that remains the case as the team embarks on a much-needed rebuild in the offseason.
Here are some key takeaways from Wednesday’s press conference:
Robert Kraft went with his gut on Jerod Mayo hiring
People often forget Belichick served as the assistant head coach/defensive backs coach for the Patriots back in 1996 on Bill Parcells’ staff. When the Patriots moved on from Parcells, Kraft admitted to having early interest in Belichick taking the job as the head coach in New England.
However, he failed to pull the trigger on that move, and it has haunted him ever since. Fortunately for the Patriots, they agreed on a trade with the New York Jets to ultimately get Belichick, but it’s something the team could have avoided if Kraft went with his gut instinct.
That was the thinking behind the decision to hire Mayo.
During the press conference, Kraft claimed he got similar vibes from Mayo that he had with Belichick back in 1996, and he didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Kraft is a methodical businessman that has thought long and hard on the direction he wanted to take the team once Belichick’s time was up.
Keep in mind, this is the same man that had Belichick. Parcells and Pete Carrol as his previous three head coaches. So he has a strong track record when it comes to spotting great coaching talent, and the hope here is that Mayo continues that long run of success in New England.
Trip to Israel solidified Jerod Mayo-Robert Kraft relationship
A group of present and past Patriots players joined Kraft on a trip to Israel back in 2019. Kraft is known for such trips, which have traditionally been philanthropic in nature.
Mayo was on this particular trip, and according to Kraft, it ended up being a great bonding session between the two. Kraft admitted to coming away feeling impressed from their interactions to the point where it likely planted the seeds for Mayo ultimately being hired as a head coach.
After retiring from football, Mayo ventured into business and quickly found success outside of the sport. He’s a savvy individual with strong qualities in leadership and team-building.
Patriots using a collaborative approach in personnel decisions
No decision has been made on a general manager for the Patriots, and according to Kraft, the organization will utilize a collaborative approach for the time being.
That could mean director of player personnel Matt Groh and director of scouting Eliot Wolf being mostly involved. Mayo plans on leaning on the experts in their particular fields, but he’s expected to contribute to the overall collaborative decisions as well.
It’s a unique approach to team building and drastically different from the way things have been run for the previous 24 seasons, which was basically Belichick making all of the final decisions.
The Patriots have some major decisions to make starting with free agency. They have a slew of expiring contracts to go through, along with plenty of money to spend on outside talent. The team also owns the No. 3 overall pick of the 2024 NFL draft. It remains to be seen whether such an approach could be successful in New England.
Kraft also didn’t rule out the possibility of hiring a general manager down the road.
History is important to Jerod Mayo
Mayo being the first black coach in Patriots’ history means something, and he didn’t shy away from pointing it out at his press conference on Wednesday.
“I do see color because I believe if you don’t see color, you can’t see racism,” said Mayo. “It goes back to, whatever it is, black, white, yellow—it really doesn’t matter. But it does matter so we can try to fix the problem that we all know we have.”
Kraft chose Mayo because he was the right fit for the head coaching job, period. But that still doesn’t mean there aren’t a bunch of other worthy minority candidates that have been passed up for opportunities.
It’s commendable to see Mayo continue to use his platform to push for that kind of change, when he could have just sat back and said nothing on the matter.
There's no certainty that Bill O'Brien will be back as offensive coordinator
When asked if the Patriots are looking for a new offensive coordinator, Mayo claimed “everything is under consideration” in the staffing decisions.
That means Bill O’Brien isn’t a lock to return as the offensive play-caller in New England. Is that a case of Mayo wanting to hire his own offensive coordinator, or is O’Brien considering following Belichick to a new team?
That will be something to keep an eye on in the coming days. The offense was a complete train wreck in 2023, but the lackluster roster didn’t give O’Brien much to work with during the season. One would think O’Brien’s head coaching and general manager experience would prove valuable to the Patriots.
And maybe it is.
However, there’s also the possibility that the team is looking to move in a completely different direction offensively that could potentially make an outside hire more alluring.
Titles matter to Jerod Mayo
Don’t expect the Patriots to continue functioning without major coaching titles.
Mayo expects to hire an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coach on his staff. It’s a massive change in direction from Belichick typically running the show with nameless roles.
“I think titles are important, and I know, no knock to Coach Belichick, who has been a huge mentor to me over the years as a player and as a colleague,” said Mayo. “I believe titles are important, outward-looking. But as far as in the building, I don’t care what your title is. It’s what’s your job? What value do you bring to the organization?
“And I think that’s the most important thing. And sometimes I think, in business and sports, people get caught up in titles, but I also understand the other side. If you want to continue to get promoted, people have to know exactly what you do.”
One of the biggest criticisms of Belichick was his tendency to micromanage things. There have been times where he’s been the de facto general manager, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and head coach.
Mayo appears to be taking more of a traditional direction by filling his staff and leaning on a more collaborative approach to coaching.
Jerod Mayo isn't Bill Belichick
Mayo made a point to acknowledge he’s not trying to be the next Belichick. All he can do is be the best Jerod Mayo he can be for the Patriots.
Granted, he has taken a bunch of lessons from his time with Belichick that could potentially help him along the way, but this isn’t going to be a Bill Belichick 2.0 situation in New England.
“I’m not trying to be Bill [Belichick]. I think that Bill is his own man. If you can’t tell by now, I’m a little bit different, even up here. What I will say is the more I think about the lessons I’ve taken from Bill, hard work, works. And that’s what we’re all about.”
The old ways clearly weren’t working with the Patriots finishing back-to-back seasons with losing records. Perhaps the new way with Mayo at the helm can finally get things back on track.