PHILADELPHIA - After a day of following the leader and preparing requests to interview head-coaching candidates that are also in heavy demand elsewhere like Robert Saleh, Arthur Smith, and Todd Bowles, the Eagles went outside of the box on Wednesday with a plan to interview New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, according to NFL Media.
Mayo, 34, is a former star LB for Bill Belichick, a heady, instinctive player who was a two-time Pro Bowl selection as a former No. 10 overall pick out of Tennessee. The Hollywood native retired after the 2015 season and was back in Foxborough by 2019 when Belichick brought him back as the ILB coach.
Around the NFL, Mayo has already developed a reputation as a fast riser in the coaching ranks and a potential future coordinator or head coach. His current title did not necessarily reflect his responsibilities in New England which doesn't have a defensive coordinator on staff.
In essence, Mayo served as the co-defensive coordinator with OLB coach Steve Belichick, Bill's son, and was clearly being groomed by perhaps the greatest coach of all-time.
Previously Brian Flores was the LB coach and the de-facto DC with the Pats before getting the top job with the Miami Dolphins.
The Eagles obviously want on the ground floor of that Mayo upside and some in the front office have referred to Mayo as "Jared Belichick," according to Ian Rapoport.
Over his two seasons as a coach in New England, the Pats' defense has ranked No. 1 in points allowed (18.1) and No.2 in takeaways (58). The unit has also been No. 1 in opposition passer rating (75.5).
The thought around the league is that Mayo is not a serious candidate for the top job with the Eagles but the wrinkle here is a tweak to the Rooney Rule that prevents teams from blocking minority candidates from coordinator promotions if under contract.
The breaking point in the Jeffrey Lurie-Doug Pederson divorce was the coaching staff and the owner's insistence that Pederson look outside the organization for his coordinator positions.
This interview highlights that Mayo was high on the front office's list to be a potential replacement for the retired Jim Schwartz if Pederson did return. It could also signal due diligence for a potential marriage between Mayo as the DC for the new coaching hire.
In return, Mayo gets his first head-coaching interview at 34 in a league steeped in groupthink.
Furthermore, there is always the chance Mayo gets in front of Lurie, Howie Roseman, and Don Smolenski and hits one out of the park.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out anything you may have missed pertaining to the Eagles by going to www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.