Phil Perry

Jerod Mayo's communication skills on display in response to recent report

Mayo handled things very differently than his boss might have.

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FOXBORO -- Jerod Mayo was vulnerable. He was open. He was, frankly, not very Belichickian.

Asked on a conference call this week about a report in which he was described as having rubbed people within the Patriots organization "the wrong way," Mayo didn't hesitate to respond with an honesty that might best be described as uncharacteristic for coaches in positions of power in New England over the last couple of decades.

"I appreciate you asking that," he said. "Honestly, I try to stay out of reading a lot of the articles and things during the year. Obviously, there are ups and downs and seasonality that kind of play a part in life and also in football. Honestly, when that report came out my brother sent it to me. It was more hurtful than anything."

The report from the Boston Sports Journal included a note that since Mayo signed an extension to return to the Patriots, he's ruffled feathers by handling himself differently around his colleagues.

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When given the opportunity to respond, Mayo provided a detailed response that served as an impromptu reminder that should Mayo take on a head-coaching role -- whether in New England or elsewhere -- he would handle the media-relations portion of the gig in a fashion all his own.

"The timing was a little bit weird, in my opinion," Mayo went on. "And, if that was the case, I feel like this would've been leaked sometime earlier. At the same time, I try to treat everyone the same way. And I will say this: I thought about it for a while. When people talk about 'rubbing people the wrong way,' obviously ... that's part of the job of being a leader, is to rub people the wrong way. And I always try to be constructive and respectful in my feedback. And some people appreciate that transparency and some don't.

"But at the end of the day, if we can't rub people the wrong way, how do expect to be the best that you can be? And I would say anytime there's change or anything like that, like, it's gonna be painful. Someone's gonna rub you the wrong way. At the end of the day, you have to look through all the words and really get to the substance, or get to the meat and potatoes of what that person is trying to say."

Mayo remains linebackers coach and de facto coordinator of a Patriots defense that has been the team's saving grace this season as the offense and special teams units have scuffled.

After the Patriots held Josh Allen to a 50 percent completion rate Sunday, defensive captain Deatrich Wise credited Mayo for having good game plans ready for the Bills quarterback. Christian Barmore said after the game that Mayo and defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington had to be two of the best coaches in the league for how they'd prepared the Patriots defense during a challenging season.

Ja'Whaun Bentley pointed to Mayo and Steve Belichick as the two coaches who had the defense ready to face consistently-adverse situations like the ones the Patriots faced after three early-game offensive turnovers in Week 17.

Two days later, Mayo was asked how he processed the report that questioned his standing with his co-workers.  

"I went through the whole emotional, just, like, cycle," he said. "First of all, being angry. Angry at the point where, you know, I've felt like I always treat people the same. I really haven't changed in regards to that. And I have evolved as a coach, I have evolved as a man in my mid-30s. But at the same time, I would just hope that going forward, those people gave me an opportunity to explain myself and also an opportunity to try to get on the same track.

"At the end of the day, though, some people are gonna like you, and some people aren't. And I'm OK with that. Some reporters are gonna like you, some reporters aren't. Some players are gonna like you, and some players aren't. But I would hope there would be a mutual level of respect. A level of respect with the media, a level of respect with the coaches, and also the players. And you know, when it's all said and done, I think the players understand that we, as a coaching staff, are trying to put them in the best possible position to go out there and execute.

"And then from a coaching perspective, I only want people around me that are going to tell me the truth. I don't want to be trapped in an echo chamber or things like that, because we all have blind spots... But you would hope that through building relationships, that people were very open about it, having those one-on-one conversations. 

"But honestly, when those sources come out, it's like, you look around, like, 'Who would say something like that?' But at the end of the day, it is what it is, and I've taken that in and tried to absorb it. I went through the whole emotional roller coaster and am trying to push forward."

Jerod Mayo responds to reports from a few weeks ago that he has 'rubbed some people in the organization the wrong way' since signing his new deal last offseason.

Despite leading defensive meetings the way Brian Flores and Matt Patricia have in recent years, Mayo's title remains linebackers coach. Part of the reasoning behind Mayo not pursuing a more lofty title was that his current label provided him flexibility.

A promotion elsewhere to defensive coordinator, for instance, would be the type of elevation that would allow him to move on from the Patriots even if he were under contract in New England. Obviously a bump to head coach would allow for a similar move.

Had Mayo accepted a coordinator title earlier, for example, he'd be unable to pursue coordinator gigs with other clubs that represented lateral moves.

His preference to this point has been to stay in New England, but there may be head-coaching opportunities out there for Mayo this offseason outside Foxboro. Beyond obtaining a job that represents a substantial professional jump that suits him, however, it's my understanding he would absolutely be willing to work for another year in New England with Belichick as his boss.

That was what appeared to be the plan for the Krafts last offseason when Belichick and Mayo both signed contracts through 2024. But now that the Patriots have one of the worst records in football at 4-12, there is an expectation from some corners of the building that the team will part ways with Belichick.

If that's the case and Mayo is the Kraft family's choice to lead the Patriots moving forward, his response to a challenging question earlier this week felt like the most recent bit of evidence that he would handle the forward-facing duties associated with the job much differently than his predecessor.

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