For better or worse, former Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia is back with the New England Patriots. Patricia has a long history in New England, serving as the defensive playcaller in 2010 and 2011 before officially earning the defensive coordinator role from 2012 to 2017. The Patriots didn’t hire a true replacement for Patricia, but Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo have served a similar role in 2020. Will Patricia’s return affect these two, and what does Bill Belichick have in mind for the long-term futures for these three?
How the Matt Patricia Hire Affects Steve Belichick, Jerod Mayo
The Short Term
Matt Patricia entered the NFL as a defensive coach and has spent his entire career working on the sidelines. However, early reports indicate that this might not be the case moving forward. According to Albert Breer, Patricia is going to spend his time serving in essentially Mike Lombardi’s old role. Breer adds that this plan is not finalized, but it’s hard to imagine the role changing significantly since Patricia has already been re-hired.
My understanding is Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia are working out a role similar to what Mike Lombardi's was in New England. Again, still a work in progress, but Patricia is expected to work on projects, be a resource to Belichick.
Should be interesting.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 22, 2021
For those unfamiliar, Mike Lombardi spent 2014 through 2016 serving as the Assistant to the Coaching Staff. This essentially made him one of the most important personnel evaluators on the team, and New England hasn’t had that role occupied in a while. Patricia doesn’t have the largest background in this regard, but it’s safe to assume Belichick trusts his ability to evaluate talent after working together for such a long time.
This means that, in the short term, Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo should retain their respective positions. While the Patriots didn’t have an official defensive coordinator in 2020, Steve Belichick essentially served that role as the defensive playcaller. Mayo, meanwhile, is the inside linebackers coach but also had a large influence on the defense. This power dynamic should stay the same in 2021, although changes could be coming after that.
The Long Term
Steve Belichick will probably stay in New England for the long haul. After all, he is Bill Belichick’s son and could even inherit the head coaching position if and when his 68-year old father decides to call it a career. Because of this, it’s hard to imagine Belichick’s role changing any time in the near future.
The same cannot be said for Jerod Mayo. Even though he has yet to call a defense, Mayo is already receiving interest for head coaching positions. Even though he didn’t get the role, Mayo interviewed for Philadelphia’s then-vacant head coaching job and reportedly made a great impression. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Mayo was considered a coach on the field during his playing days.
Quite frankly, Mayo’s current situation is very similar to where Brian Flores was following the 2017 offseason. Like Flores, Mayo is a relatively inexperienced coach that reportedly impressed during his first interview. The lack of experience probably scared the Eagles away, but Mayo should earn a head coaching job at some point in the next two years. When this happens, the Patriots are going to need to fill a massive hole on their coaching staff.
Enter Matt Patricia. Having Patricia work as a coaching assistant is essentially Belichick’s way of holding on to one of his favorite defensive coaches. Patricia and Belichick both know Mayo will move on to bigger and better opportunities before long, at which point Patricia will probably return to the sideline and effectively take over Mayo’s role on the coaching staff.
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