At least officially, the New England Patriots do not have a coordinator on the defensive side of the ball. Head coach Bill Belichick is overseeing the operation as a whole, but his two linebacker coaches are effectively running the show on this side of the ball: former Patriots LB Jerod Mayo and Belichick’s son, Steve.
Mayo and the younger Belichick are listed as the team’s inside and outside linebacker coaches, respectively, but they are serving as de facto coordinators. Both are heavily involved with the game plan and calling the shots on Sundays.
Their dynamic is highly important to the Patriots defense, but little is actually known about it. The curtain was pulled back just a bit recently, however, with inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan giving some minor insight.
“Steve and Jerod are some of the best coaches that I’ve had while I’ve been here in the NFL,” he told reporters following last week’s OTA practice.
“Jerod, coming from his pedigree of how he played and led some of these teams out here. And Steve, his last name says it all. But having those two in a room with you and just picking their brains, seeing how they see football, it helps me play when I come out there and play football.”
McMillan arrived in New England last offseason but had to spend virtually all of 2022 on injured reserve after tearing his ACL. He projects as a key member of the Patriots’ new-look linebacker corps this season, and as such is already working closely with both Mayo and Belichick.
As for the two coaches, it appears that they complement each other well in the classroom.
“Coach Mayo, he’s a crazy dude,” McMillan said. “Walks in with good energy every day. He comes in with energy, gets you going in the morning. And Steve’s kind of the cerebral guy, sitting in the back but always has his comments and two cents on how you can make plays within the defense because he sat and watched it for so long. Both of the guys give you good information on where you can make plays.”
Mayo was a starting linebacker and team captain during his time with the Patriots from 2008 through the 2015 season, and it appears his natural leadership skills carried over into his second career. Belichick, meanwhile, is described similar as his notoriously stoic but immensely knowledgable father.
Despite being polar opposites from that perspective, the two have found a way to work together. And it seems that the duo has a fan in Raekwon McMillan.