Even though he is entering only his third season on the New England Patriots’ staff, inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo has considerable experience at the NFL level. A former first-round draft pick by the Patriots, Mayo appeared in a combined 111 regular season and playoff games between 2008 and 2016 and won a Super Bowl with the club.
He certainly knows his craft, but the same cannot be said about all of the players under his tutelage — at least as far as some elements of playing the linebacker position are concerned. Among them is film study, as Mayo himself pointed out ahead of Wednesday’s training camp practice.
“A lot of these kids come out of college not really knowing how to study film,” the 35-year-old said. “They know how to watch a game, right? Like there’s just the average fan. But they don’t know how to study film. So, trying to take them through all those basics and talk to them like... kind of like I talk to my son.”
Mayo, a father of four, has used his son to help him with practicing his concept installations and the way they are being taught.
“Sometimes — no disrespect to the guys — but I’ve installed plays with my son just to make sure I kind of break it down to the point that if a 10-year-old can understand it, then they can understand it,” Mayo said. “That’s kind of my approach to the whole situation. But as far as the off-the-field stuff, I just try to speak through experience and the things that I kind of went through early in my career.”
Mayo arrived in the NFL as the 10th overall selection in the 2018 draft, and he quickly made a name for himself as a hard-hitting middle linebacker. Earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, the Tennessee product became a cornerstone of New England’s defense before injuries caught up with him and forced him into an early retirement.
Now back with the Patriots in a coaching capacity, Mayo brings something to the table only three other members of the team’s staff possess: playing experience at the NFL level.
On Wednesday, head coach Bill Belichick talked about just that — mentioning both Mayo and fellow assistant Troy Brown.
“Troy and Jerod have done a great job for us,” Belichick said. “They both bring a lot to the coaching staff, to the team, to the entire organization. They obviously have a lot of experience, and they have a perspective on the game as players that most of the other coaches on the staff don’t have, at least at the professional level. That’s good.”
Brown appeared in 212 games for the Patriots between 1993 and 2007, and earned three championship rings along the way. Two years ago, he joined his old club in a coaching capacity — first working on a fellowship, then with running backs and returners, and now with his former position group as wide receivers/kick returners coach.
Vinnie Sunseri (running backs) and Billy Yates (assistant offensive line) are the only other coaches on the New England staff with NFL playing experience.
When it comes to Mayo and Brown, Belichick spoke highly of both.
“They work extremely hard. They’re well prepared, just like they were as players, and they’re excellent role models. They’re young — they’re not that far away from when they did play — and can related to a lot of the things the players are going through, whether that be time management, preparation for practice, how to study, and so forth,” he said.
“They’re a great resource for those players as well as, in general, myself and the coaching staff on topics like that that they were very good at and have more experience with than the rest of us do.”
In Mayo’s case, this also means being able to break down complicated matters to a level 10-year-olds would understand as well.