Hannable: Bill Belichick showing great trust in Jerod Mayo naming him Patriots linebackers coach

Ryan Hannable
March 27, 2019 - 8:23 pm

Bill Belichick has been around the game for 45 seasons, 25 as a head coach, so he knows as well as anyone the progression that typically takes place for coaches.

Usually, coaches start out in quality control, move up the ladder to coaching assistant, then to positional, before coordinator and lastly head coach. Of course, there’s always going to be a few who skip a step or two, but experience is the No. 1 key.

The Patriots are going a bit off course by hiring Jerod Mayo as their new linebackers coach, first reported by NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran. Since retiring in 2016, Mayo has done television work for NBC Sports Boston on top of a day job Optum.

Belichick and the Patriots are hiring Mayo as linebackers coach, a very important position, without any prior coaching experience.

But, if anyone can do it, it’s Mayo.

The 33-year-old, who retired at age 29, was almost like a second coach on the field during his playing days. Mayo was one of the smartest players ever to play for Belichick.

"From the first day he walked in the facility, which was his pre-draft visit, after we drafted him in 2008, he's been a pleasure to coach, a great addition to our team, both on and off the field," Belichick said at the 2016 NFL owners meetings, shortly after Mayo retired. "I'm sure I learned a lot more from him than he did from me. Jerod,  [Chantel, Mayo’s wife] and their family brought a special glow to our team, to our organization. 

“Although Jerod will always be part of the team and is always welcome, he'll be missed on a daily basis, the attitude, work ethic and love of football that he brought was special. He was very special.”

It takes a special player and person to get that kind of praise from Belichick, but that is what Mayo is.

Following an offseason which saw tremendous coaching turnover, Mayo’s presence will be a welcome addition for the defense and the linebackers room, in particular. The former All-Pro knows exactly what it takes to play for the Patriots and Belichick, so he will be able to relate to players perhaps better than any coach has before.

Even when he played, Mayo was a player who was admired by his peers. In fact, current linebacker Dont’a Hightower has praised Mayo multiple times over the years for everything he did for him to mold him into the player and teammate he is today. 

"I thought I was a smart football player, but I mean that dude could be a defensive coordinator right now,” Hightower said prior to the 2015 AFC title game.

Another player who should reap the benefits of Mayo more than anyone is second-year linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. Before landing on injured reserve after Week 2 last season, Matthew Slater said he reminded him of Mayo, and it wasn’t just because Bentley is No. 51.

Many view Bentley as the future leader of the unit, just like Mayo and Hightower were and still are. Mayo’s presence around Bentley on a daily basis should work wonders for the Purdue product.

And it won’t just be the defense Mayo will be able to help, it will be the entire team.

Mayo’s upbeat, positive personality will benefit everyone as he’s a person who help anyone and his past playing days for Belichick will certainly help. Playing for the Patriots isn’t easy and tough days will be had, but Mayo is the type of person who will be able to be a soundboard for players and be able to help guide them through those tough times given his experience.

Mayo obviously will jump many already on coaching staff, such as the coaching assistants, but it’s the respect factor he comes with that will not allow it to become an issue. And based on the responses to his Instagram post of the announcement, the hire is a huge hit among the players.

Hiring Mayo without any past coaching experience is going against what Belichick has seemed to believe in over the years, but the former linebacker is one of the few people worth making an exception for.

He’s that special.

Related: Report: Patriots have top 30 visit set up with TE Jace Sternberger, who is projected to go high in NFL draft