It has not even been a week since the Patriots played their final game of the 2022 season, and so much has happened in just those five days.
Earlier this week, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft had their annual end-of-season meeting. It was reported they discussed the team’s issues throughout the season and agreed upon a plan regarding the offensive coaching staff moving forward. Despite the speculation that Belichick may take issue with Kraft’s desire to revamp the personnel, the head coach and owner are said to be on the same page, and coaching changes are set to occur.
Because the Patriots are typically a tight-lipped organization, all conversations about the meeting between the two have been from the mouths of those “in the know.” But that changed on Thursday afternoon when the team made an uncharacteristic announcement on their website and social media pages.
The unprecedented memo revealed that the Patriots and Belichick would begin interviewing candidates for their offensive coordinator position starting next week, a title, although not officially held by Matt Patricia this past season, he performed the duties of the role throughout.
That piece dominated the headlines for the rest of the evening, mainly due to the shocking nature of the organization making its plans known. But, for a team that generally keeps information close to the vest, the reveal left many questioning the real reason for the public declaration.
Furthermore, the memo also noted that the team was working on extending inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, who has been the most sought-after candidate for head coaching openings throughout the league. Because he was set to interview with the Panthers next week, it seemed like a move to keep him from leaving the organization. But upon further review, it may mean something entirely different.
Speculating what the announcement could mean even when reading between the lines, the inclusion of “that would keep him with the team long-term” made many wonder if Mayo is possibly next in line after Belichick retires.
Was this their way of revealing their Belichick succession plan?
Considering he has been heavily pursued over the last few years for head coaching vacancies across the league, including this year, it makes sense that Kraft would want to keep Mayo in New England. As a bright, young football mind with an entire career’s worth of experience (literally) with the Patriots, replacing Belichick with Mayo doesn’t seem that obscure.
Since the Rams hired 30-year-old Sean McVay in 2017, there has been a rise in teams hiring younger head coaches – Matt LeFleur, Zac Taylor, and Nick Sirianni, for example. Are the Patriots preparing to make that move as well?
Given the atypical nature of the memo and Kraft’s reported unhappiness with the coaching staff, it’s not entirely crazy to draw this conclusion. Nevertheless, the league is moving in a new direction with coaches, which could be where New England begins preparing to meet the rest of the league.
It’s still being determined what the terms will be within Mayo’s extension. Some have speculated his role could change as soon as the 2023 season, possibly to assistant head coach or defensive coordinator. And although that’s likely since he’s been the ILB coach since 2019, it’s difficult to predict with a team that mostly keeps plans private.