Patriots Talk Podcast

Is Jerod Mayo ready to be an NFL head coach? Devin McCourty weighs in

"I think he has a chance to be a head coach this year somewhere else."

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It's been a long time -- 24 years, in fact -- since the New England Patriots were in the process of hiring a head coach. They might be in that situation as early as next week.

The 2023 NFL regular season ends Sunday when the Patriots host the rival New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. It'll be the final game of the season for the Patriots because they have been eliminated from playoff contention for the third time in the last four years. It also might be the last game for Bill Belichick as head coach of the Patriots. He is under contract through the 2024 campaign, but with the Patriots continuing to go backwards since 2021, it's fair to wonder if both sides could use a fresh start.

If Belichick does depart, who would replace him?

The best internal candidate is Jerod Mayo, who has been a linebackers coach on the Patriots' staff since 2019. Mayo decided to remain in New England last offseason despite interest from other teams. He has done a great job coaching the defense and making it the strength of the Patriots for the second straight year. He also has the experience of being a top-tier player after spending all eight of his pro seasons in Foxboro.

One of the few criticisms of Mayo's candidacy is his lack of experience as a coach. Is it too early for Mayo to be a head coach in the NFL? Our Tom E. Curran asked this question to Patriots legend Devin McCourty, who now works for NBC Sports and was a teammate of Mayo's for six seasons.

๐Ÿ”Š Patriots Talk: Devin McCourty goes deep on Patriots at crossroads | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"I don't think so. I think his time's coming," McCourty said on NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Talk Podcast. "Whether that's in New England, I think this year could be that year. We don't know. Now that I'm in the media, you see it more where at one point it's like, there might be 10 head coaching vacancies available, so you never know.

"But if it is five or more, I think he has a chance to be a head coach this year somewhere else. And I think that's what makes a decision even harder for the Krafts, that if they do really like Mayo and want him to stay in the building and be a part of the Patriots organization -- you know, he turned down interviews last year. He's been interviewed before. How many years is it going to go on until he says, 'You know what? I'm ready. I want to get out there.'

"That's the thing in coaching -- it might not always work the first time you become a head coach. So the sooner you can get out there and learn on the job and try to bring people around you to help you learn, the better you are. Because then if you get another shot at it and you get to do it again, you've already been through it and you learned, whereas you see some of these older coaches get the opportunity and then that's it. And I think for him, he would probably rather say, 'I would love to get this opportunity as soon as possible and then I'll continue to learn and get better.'"

McCourty is, for several reasons, bullish on Mayo's chances to be a successful head coach regardless of where it happens. Leadership was one aspect of Mayo's skill set that McCourty highlighted.

"He's a leader of men, so no matter where he's at, what role he has, you just hit on it -- he's been a huge part of that defense continuing to show up week in and week out because he knows how to lead men," McCourty said. "So I think no matter when he gets an opportunity, he would be ready, he would crush it. And I think he's going to need a learning curve in the learning experiences from everything.

"Like he's never he's never had to do a salary cap, right? The draft. All of those things will be new to him, but I think the thing that he has is he doesn't have an ego. He knows he needs to surround himself with people who are better at that stuff than he is so he can learn and give himself the opportunity to go out there and compete and be a good football team no matter where he's at."

Also in this episode with McCourty:

  • Why firing Bill Belichick may not be the best idea
  • Mac Jones and what went wrong
  • Tanking in the NFL
  • Matthew Slater potentially playing in his final game Sunday
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