New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been leading the organization for more than two decades, becoming one of the best NFL head coaches ever. As he prepares for the 2023 season, there is a growing belief his successor is becoming evident.
Belichick, hired by New England in 2000, has given no indications that he plans to retire anytime soon. During his storied career as the Patriots’ coach and top decision-maker, several names have been mentioned as the heir to become New England’s next head coach.
It was believed for many years that Josh McDaniels would eventually succeed Belichick. Regarded as one of the best offensive strategists in football, McDaniels has spent nearly two decades working under Belichick. He turned down the Indianapolis Colts’ coaching in 2018, a decision many believe was tied to a believe he would eventually replace Belichick.
However, the 46-year-old agreed to become the Las Vegas Raiders head coach in 2022 and there are no signs of his job being in jeopardy even after a difficult first season.
Bill O’Brien, who returned to New England this offseason as the offensive coordinator, has also received buzz as a potential successor in New England. Reports surfaced in 2021 that O’Brien wanted to be fired by the Houston Texans so he could become the heir to Belichick’s role.
However, there is now a growing belief around New England based on recent moves and personal experiences that linebackers coach Jerod Mayo will be the next Patriots head coach.
Chad Graff of The Athletic profiled Mayo, speaking to many of his former teammates in New England and others involved with the Patriots’ organization. While it wasn’t explicitly stated that the former Patriots’ linebacker will eventually replace Belichick, the belief is shared by many familiar with the team’s approach.
““They definitely know they have something here and don’t want to let him go.”Former New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich on Jerod Mayo (H/T The Athletic)
Brandon Spikes, who played for the Patriots from 2010-’13, called Mayo “Belichick 2.0” and raved about the former linebacker’s leadership and willingness to coach people.
“Even though we were playing next to each other, Jerod was my coach. I knew I could go to him and get the details for what we were trying to get done, and he could deliver it to me just as Belichick would. Even as a player, he was already a coach.”Brandon Spikes on New England Patriots assistant coach Jerod Mayo
Mayo, age 37, was drafted by Belichick with the 10th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. While the 6-foot-1 linebacker only played eight seasons (2008-’15), he became a personal favorite of Belichick. Mayo received universal praise for his leadership, football IQ, work ethic and maturity during his playing career.
Just a few years after his playing career ended, Mayo rejoined the Patriots in 2019 as the inside linebackers coach. He started receiving head-coaching interviews in 2021, drawing rave reviews from executives for his preparedness and approach to being a coach.
After drawing strong consideration around the league for defensive coordinator vacancies, New England announced in early January that it would sign Mayo to a contract extension. It was viewed as an unusual public declaration from an organization that prefers to keep things under wraps, further evidence to some around the league that the Patriots’ organization is extremely high on the young coach.
While Belichick will likely still be coaching the Patriots for several more years, it’s evident Mayo is on track to become an NFL head coach. How long it takes until Belichick steps away might ultimately be what determines if Mayo is coaching the Patriots or another NFL team in the future.