Are Patriots taking ‘shots' at Belichick? Jerod Mayo clears the air

Are Patriots taking ‘shots' at Belichick? Jerod Mayo clears the air originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

New Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo and head of personnel Eliot Wolf both have spoken at length about installing a new culture and a new way of operating in New England.

Mayo said he "(doesn't) like echo chambers" and expressed a desire to "knock down silos and collaborate." Wolf admitted there's "more of an open — less of a hard-ass type — vibe" at the Patriots' facility. Both used the word "different" multiple times in their introductory press conferences.

There's a reading of those comments that doesn't reflect well on former head coach Bill Belichick, who was the culture-setter in New England for the previous 24 seasons. By highlighting what needs to change in their new regime, Mayo and Wolf appeared to be spotlighting all that was wrong in Belichick's old regime.

On Wednesday, however, Mayo pushed back on the narrative that he and the Patriots are taking veiled digs at their former boss.

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"Look, it's going to be different, but at the same time, I would say Bill did a great job for a long period of time" Mayo told reporters, including our Patriots Insider Phil Perry, at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "I don't want you guys to take this, just because we're changing, as shots toward the previous regime."

"In saying that, we will do it differently, and it'll feel different. But at the end of the day, we would like to replicate the success that the prior regime had. So, I learned a lot from Bill and also his staff, but now we’ll see what this chapter looks like."

Mayo is in a bit of a difficult spot. The reality is New England went 4-13 last season, with several facets of Belichick's regime -- a tight-knit coaching staff and front office with nebulous titles; an against-the-grain grading system of NFL Draft prospects; and a highly-demanding, no-nonsense culture -- leading to dysfunction among players and coaches. Significant changes were needed, and Mayo and Wolf shouldn't shy away from broadcasting that things will be different in New England as they try to establish a new culture.

But there is a balance Mayo and Co. can strike in publicizing those changes while recognizing Belichick's historic success in bringing six Super Bowl titles to Foxboro -- and perhaps even taking some best practices from one of the greatest coaches in NFL history.

Mayo's comments Wednesday proved he's making an effort to strike that balance while staying on course in ushering in a new era in Foxboro.