Bill Belichick, left, talks with Jerod Mayo during a game on Oct. 31, 2010. Mayo, a linebackers coach under Belichick, will be the new head coach of the team at age 37. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

The choice of Jerod Mayo as the heir to Bill Belichick doesn’t exactly move the needle. He doesn’t generate much buzz or a ton of excitement with the fan base.

That’s largely because he doesn’t project as being the cure for an offensively-challenged team in an offense-driven league. He doesn’t scream touchdowns and pinball-machine like scoring.

Mayo, who will be formally introduced as head coach on Wednesday, falls more into the category of been there, done that.

He’s been coached by Belichick as a player. He’s learned at the hip of the six-time Super Bowl champion coach. That means he has a masters degree in shutting down offenses.

That’s why it’s hard to view him as different than any other Belichick protege – Matt Patricia, Eric Mangini, Brian Flores, Josh McDaniels – who flopped as a head coach. Based on history, it’s hard to believe he might actually have what it takes to succeed.

Having known Mayo from his playing days, however, and having watched him grow into his role as the linebackers coach – one who’s been conducting the defensive meetings for several years – he’s more of a free thinker and understands the big picture dynamics.


While it would have been nice to get the offensive version of Belichick, a savant at creating innovative plays on that side of ball instead of defense, that won’t necessarily derail Mayo. He just needs to have the right vision, and assemble the right set of coaches to handle the quarterback and play calling. Whether he sticks with Bill O’Brien remains to be seen.

He also needs to be aligned with a shrewd general manager when it comes to assembling talent on that side of the ball.

If Mayo takes care of that, he has the rest. He’s smart. He’s a natural leader of men. Players want to play for him. And he won’t make the same mistake as others who have tried to copy Belichick. Mayo’s his own man. So if he has a plan to revive the offense and is able to put that in motion, he will be the Belichick disciple who finally has success.

He will need to be smart with free agency, but then who are they going to target with the No. 3 pick in the draft? What does Mayo see as the most important need?

Quarterback? Wide receiver? Offensive tackle? If Mayo takes a page out of his predecessor’s book and thinks defense-first, he’ll be doomed. Nothing will change. It will be the same old, same old.

But that’s not my view of Mayo. He’s different than Belichick in many ways, and deserves the benefit of the doubt. Naysayers will point to his lack of experience, which is understandably a concern. Mayo has never been a head coach. But those around him, those who know him, have no doubt he’ll get the Patriots turned around.

“He understands what it’s like to be a player, he understands what it’s like to be a coach,” former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich said of Mayo during a recent podcast. “Him having that player-coach mentality makes him different than really any other coach that’s been with (Belichick) in the past.”

Mayo is essentially a modernized version of Belichick. A friendlier version of Belichick. He also has more of an open mind to know and understand what’s needed to succeed in today’s NFL.

That’s not a guarantee that he will get the Patriots up off the mat. But of all the Belichick protégés, Mayo has a fighting chance. He has the right mix of traits, that special it factor that’s needed to succeed.

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