The New England Patriots defense has looked unstoppable to start the season. How much of that is a credit to Jerod Mayo joining as a coach this year?
Even though we are only heading into Week 3 of the 2019 season, the New England Patriots defense looks unstoppable. The unit has only given up one score on the season: a field goal during Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, the Pats have a home matchup against the New York Jets, who just got dominated by the Cleveland Browns defense on Monday night in Week 2.
Perhaps one of the biggest differences so far this season for the team has been the addition of Jerod Mayo to the coaching staff. This summer, Mayo became one of the first position coaches hired by head coach Bill Belichick without having any previous coaching experience.
Of course, Mayo played for the Pats under Belichick’s system from 2008-2015. Along the way, Mayo became an NFL Rookie of the Year as well as a Super Bowl champion. He showed instant understanding of the defense right from the very beginning of his career, and was named a captain of the team by his third season in the pros.
Ever since former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left New England to become the Detroit Lions’ head coach, Belichick has refrained from giving out the title of “defensive coordinator.” Last season, Brian Flores served as the “defensive play caller” for the team, but was not officially name as the “defensive coordinator.”
This season, it has been reported that both Mayo and Steven Belichick – Bill Belichick’s son – have been calling the defensive plays. There may be some truth to the two young coaches sharing some of these responsibilities, but ultimately only one person can call in the plays to the troops on the field – and it appears that person might be Mayo.
While on WEEI’s Dale & Keefe Show, Patriots safety Duron Harmon said something that answered a lot of those unanswered questions New England fans have been wondering all year. When Harmon was asked who is actually calling the plays for the defense in 2019, this is how he responded:
"“Jerod, obviously, he’s been calling the plays for us. He’s been working at making sure he can get the play in on time and he’s been doing a good job for us. There are some things we need to get better at, but right now I like where we’re headed.”"
Mayo’s defensive play calling has only allowed three points on the season. Since he is a former player of Belichick, he has a solid understanding of what his head coach expects in most situations.
This experience in the trenches will help him with his play selection. Based off statistics and overall impact on the game, it was in Mayo’s 2010 season when he really transitioned from ‘good’ to ‘elite’. That was the year that Mayo led the NFL with 114 solo tackles on his way to a First-team All-Pro selection.
Most people forget that Mayo was on the team with some pretty notable guys during his rookie season. He was able to learn ‘The Patriot Way’ from Teddy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and Junior Seau during his first few years in the NFL.
While being part of a stacked defense that consisted of Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, and Adalius Thomas, Mayo learned his role quickly. The knowledge and firsthand experience that he developed should be the foundation for what could become a very successful coaching career.
Jerod Mayo wore the green dot on his helmet for many years while receiving defensive calls. Now, the roles have reversed, and he is the one sending in the calls to the player with the green dot on New England’s roster (usually Dont’a Hightower).
While not all former players become great coaches, many certainly do… and there’s no denying that Mayo has been an incredible addition to the coaching staff at least so far in 2019. Thanks in no small part to his contributions from the sideline, the New England Patriots once again look to be on top of the league.