One thing appears certain as Jerod Mayo enters his first season as head coach of the New England Patriots – he’ll be more open with the media than the man he played for as a Patriots linebacker, Bill Belichick. Mark Stockwell/Associated Press

Bill Belichick loved to keep his players on edge.

The former New England Patriots head coach was a no-nonsense, old-school coach who controlled the players, the environment, and the message.

Jerod Mayo?

He certainly learned from the master, both as a player and coach, and can’t help but bring some of the Belichick way to the table.

Mayo, however, won’t be running his ship quite like Belichick did. Mayo is a players’ coach. He emits a completely different vibe from Belichick. He’ll be firm if needed, but he’s bigger on communication and talking out issues, as opposed to just laying down the law and expecting the players to keep quiet and do as they’re told.

Belichick, with six Super Bowl wins on his resumé as a head coach, didn’t want players questioning his every move and didn’t welcome such challenges.


Mayo, on the other hand, is more approachable and happy to explain the ‘whys’ behind employing certain schemes or drills he puts them through. That much was evident during the early camps.

It remains to be seen if Mayo’s way can produce results when games start. Or if players really do need a Belichick-type push to get the best out of them.

While talent is the biggest trigger toward success, great coaches can inspire teams or players to overachieve.

Dante Scarnecchia’s drill sergeant, tough-love approach while coaching New England’s offensive line always got the most out of his unit. While having Tom Brady also elevated lesser players, Belichick always seemed to squeeze the most out of good though not great players with his stern, Darth Vader-like approach.

Will Mayo have the same impact using kindness, and a less stressful environment? Will he be able to do more with less, thanks to having more relaxed players?

Three-time Super Bowl winner Duron Harmon, a guest on the “Eye on Foxborough” podcast, believes both methods work. He’s been led by several head coaches, with different styles.


The former Patriots safety, who was coached by failed Belichick disciples Matt Patricia in Detroit and Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas, says any NFL coach would be headed for trouble if he tries to be something he’s not.

Harmon doesn’t see Mayo falling into the trap of trying to be Belichick.

“At the end of the day, Mayo is gonna have to be Mayo for him to be the best coach he can be for the Patriots,” Harmon said. “And in being Mayo, he provides kind of a stark contrast. I mean, Bill liked to keep the players a little bit on edge, you know, and challenge them … He was a tough, hard-nosed old-school type coach. Jerod, on the other hand, wants to ease the tension.”

Some believe Mayo’s way is more conducive to what works in the NFL today. Players have changed over time. They don’t respond as well to coaches like Belichick who motivate with fear.

“Today’s NFL is not the NFL from, even when I got in the NFL, 10 years ago. It’s certainly not from what you saw 20 years ago,” Harmon said. “We’re seeing a trend in the NFL where a lot of teams are just going with younger coaches … coaches who are a little bit more energetic, a little bit more positive, a little bit more about family.”

Mayo, who is 38, is just nine years removed from playing. He knows what makes today’s players tick, what gets them to perform, and the type of theme he needs to preach. He knows what type of culture he wants to establish.


Or, as Harmon put it, Mayo’s vibe with the players is: “Let’s come in, let’s do our best, let’s work, and let’s have fun.”

The common thread between Belichick and Mayo is the hard work they both demand. Mayo, who will be running his first training camp at the end of July, is just a little more pragmatic about it.

In the end, all that matters is wins. The Patriots’ braintrust is banking on Mayo having the right stuff as a head coach to make that happen.

“There’s multiple ways to do it,” Harmon said. “There’s no right way. There’s no wrong way, but you just have to make sure that it’s the right way for your team. And, for Mayo, I think this is the right way for his team. So I wish him luck, and if anybody can do it, he can.”

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