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The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Will Jerod Mayo change how New England analyzes players?

Bill Belichick departed New England in the 2024 offseason, resulting in the subsequent hiring of Jerod Mayo to fill the team’s head coaching role. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

After 24 years as the New England Patriots’ head coach and general manager, Bill Belichick has left the team. 

In the wake of his departure, Jerod Mayo has been elevated to the head coaching role. Mayo has been in the Patriots’ organization for more than a decade, as he was originally drafted by the team as a linebacker in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. 

Mayo had a fruitful career with New England, tallying 803 total tackles over the course of 103 career games with the team. During that time, Mayo was elected captain for seven consecutive seasons and was on New England’s 2014 Super Bowl winning roster. 

Following his retirement in 2016, Mayo became a linebacker coach for New England in 2019, working in the position for five years. A clause was written into his initial linebacker coaching contract that opened the door for Mayo to eventually become New England’s next head coach. Belichick was well aware of this, and the clause was meant to serve as a succession plan for the Patriots. 

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Thus, upon Belichick’s departure this offseason, Mayo was quickly elevated to the head coaching position. 

In the months leading up to Belichick’s departure, fans across New England were split on whether or not to keep the aging Belichick around. At age 71, Belichick was seen by some as an out-dated football mind. In the eyes of those Patriots fans, Belichick’s role-filling, low-spending approach to free agency and the NFL draft was doomed in the modern star-powered NFL. 

Over the course of New England’s 20-year run of dominance — in which Belichick led the team to six Super Bowl championships — Belichick had a unique general managing style. Instead of paying top dollar for all-star players, Belichick would often sign undervalued players for low prices that filled predetermined schematic roles on the team. And instead of drafting top-rated talent, Belichick often opted to maximize his draft capital by trading down in NFL drafts. This style often led to star Patriots players walking away in free agency year in and year out. 

While the team was winning, this style was acclaimed as masterful and unbeatable, as the team never faced the rough cap-space situations that often sent other franchises into multi-year rebuilds. 

Belichick believed that success could only be sustained if they built their team around the idea that the loss of any one player shouldn’t decimate their chances of success, and fans quickly bought in. Players brought onto the team fit into predetermined, interchangeable roles. That way, every piece of the puzzle could, in theory, be replaced. 

For 19 years, the strategy worked, and the Patriots didn’t have a single losing season during that stretch. 

This all changed when the quarterback that started for the Patriots during those 19 years, Tom Brady, left. During his time with New England, Brady won six Super Bowls, four Super Bowl MVP awards, three regular-season MVP awards and an endless list of other accolades that set him atop the general consensus’ list of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. 

In the wake of Brady’s departure, questions quickly arose. Who was more responsible for the Patriots’ 19 years of sustained success? Brady or Belichick? 

In the ensuing four seasons, Belichick would fail to win a playoff game, going 28-39 over that stretch and 4-13 in his final season as head coach and general manager. 

As a result, fans quickly came to two conclusions; Brady was irreplaceable, and Belichick had an outdated general managing style and was an outdated head coach. Shortly thereafter, Belichick left New England – and has yet to secure another head coaching job. 

Since Mayo’s succession of Belichick as head coach, fans have wondered whether the team will change its ways and target top-level talent in trades, free agency and the draft. 

While Mayo initially stated that the team was ready to “burn some cash” in free agency during his initial press conference, he later walked back that statement and stated that it wouldn’t lead to long-term success. 

So, while not having Belichick as a general manager excites some fans, it’s likely time to pump the breaks. Belichick is gone, but many of his disciples remain in the Patriots’ front office, and thus his managing style might not be completely wiped from the team’s identity.

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