Might Jerod Mayo Obtain his Head Coaching Goal by Following the Example of Another Ex-Patriot?

New England’s inside linebackers coach sees a path to becoming a head coach in the NFL; a path set by a former Patriots’ teammate.
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New England Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo is entering his third season on Bill Belichick’s coaching staff. Since March 2019, the former Pats’ defensive standout has been putting the lessons he learned on the field into action while teaching the next generation of New England linebackers. Not only has he impressed his fellow coaches, Mayo has caught the sharp eye of many throughout the league. Many consider him to be a potential top candidate for future head coaching vacancies in the NFL.

During the offseason, Mayo received an interview with the Philadelphia Eagles for their vacant head coaching job. Though he was not chosen, the 35-year-old remains undaunted in his pursuit of what he describes as his ultimate goal.

“I definitely have aspirations to be a head coach,” Mayo told reporters on Wednesday. “But, right now, I’m really focused on this team. We have a great head coach here in New England, but that is the goal. I think I can do it, well, I should say, I know I can do it, I’m just waiting for my chance for it to come to fruition.”

Following the Path of a Patriot?

Mayo is justifiably confident in his abilities. After all, he has been widely praised for his ability to connect with his players and teach them the fundamentals required for success in the NFL. However, he may have also become keenly aware that his path to becoming a head coach in the NFL has already been trod by his former Patriots’ teammate. Like Mayo, he too started out as a linebackers coach; learning the nuances of pro-level coaching while biding his time to obtain that coveted head position.

That former teammate’s name is Mike Vrabel.

Like Mayo, Vrabel was a standout Patriots’ linebacker for many seasons in Foxboro. Following a fourteen-year career in the NFL as a player, Vrabel entered the next phase of his football journey as a coach. The former Patriots linebacker spent three seasons on the Ohio State defensive staff, under then-coach Urban Meyer. In 2014, Vrabel was hired by the Houston Texans as a linebackers coach. During his three seasons in that role, Vrabel helped to mold the Texans defense into a top-three unit in yards allowed.

In January 2016, several news outlets reported that the San Francisco 49ers had offered Vrabel their defensive coordinator job. However, the timing was not quite right. Vrabel declined the offer and remained in Houston. In January 2017 the Texans named Vrabel as their defensive coordinator. Vrabel’s continued success in the right environment in Houston led to him being offered the position of head coach of the Tennessee Titans in 2018. During that period, he has led the Titans to a 29-19 record, including an appearance in the 2019 AFC Championship Game against the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.

While Mayo played alongside Vrabel in New England for only one season (2008), he could take a page from the manual which the current Titans head coach has provided. Vrabel (who like Mayo started as a linebackers coach) patiently remained in the proper system, allowing him to accentuate his strengths. When the time came, he achieved his goal.

In the meantime…

On the surface, Mayo appears to be intently focused on his upcoming 2021 season with the Patriots. Still, he realizes that each practice, and each game, is another opportunity for him to grow as a coach.

“Personally speaking, I think I’m better as a coach,” he said when asked about his growth in his position. “I always say, the players win games, and the coaches lose games. It’s our responsibility as coaches to really simplify the concepts so everyone in the room can understand.”

Mayo, also ,has apparently had some help in that regard. He remarked on Wednesday that he has practiced installing defensive concepts with his young son. He has done so in order to make sure that he is being clear enough with his communication.

“If a 10-year-old can understand it, then they can understand it.”

Ultimately, Jerod Mayo will continue to prepare the Patriots linebackers as best he can for the upcoming season. Their success on the field will lead to an increase in his professional success. Like Vrabel before him, he recognizes the value of remaining in a strong organization until the time for which he has been waiting presents itself. All the while, Mayo is gaining valuable experience that will better prepare him for life at the next level.

“I will say this, the one thing about experience is you know what to expect. Now, last year was just an anomaly as far as what to expect; every single week, it was something else. This year is kind of like my first year, I’m trying to take that second year leap this year, being around those guys on a daily basis.”

Until the right opportunity knocks on his door, Jerod Mayo keeps growing as a coach.

He is doing his job, in true Patriots fashion.