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New Patriots HC Jerod Mayo in introduction: I'm 'not trying' to be Bill Belichick

Jerod Mayo made history Wednesday, becoming the first Black head coach in Patriots history.

He'll hold an eternal place in New England's franchise timeline as the man tabbed to replace Bill Belichick. After eight seasons playing for Belichick and five years serving on Belichick's staff, he's intimately familiar with the culture and process in New England.

But he's still his own man. And he's not about to be a carbon copy of the legendary coach.

"Yeah, this organization has had a lot of success over the years, for a long time. And there have been many teams that, they have one good year and then they're out for three years," Mayo said during his introductory news conference Wednesday. "One thing I learned from Coach is, and from Thunder (Patriots owner Robert Kraft), is about just surrounding yourself with good people.

"Now as far as our staff and things like that, we're going to be good, we're going to be a lot better. Now Bill always says this: 'managing expectations.' For me, I'm not trying to be Bill, I'm not trying to be Bill. I think that Bill is his own man, if you can't tell by now I'm even a little bit different up here. But what I will say is, the more I think about the lessons that I've taken from Bill, hard work works, right? Hard work works. And that's what we're all about."

Plenty of work is ahead for the Patriots, who parted with Belichick after the franchise's worst season in 30 years. Mayo is stepping into gigantic shoes left behind by Belichick, who owned full control of football operations, maintaining final say on personnel decisions and overseeing every coaching element.

The coaching responsibilities naturally include filling out a staff, which became uniquely amorphous in recent years.

In 2022, Belichick declined to name a proper offensive coordinator, leaving play-calling duties up to veteran assistant Matt Patricia, who owned a prior background on the defensive side of the ball. That experiment failed, producing a dreadful offense that prompted Belichick to bring former OC Bill O'Brien back into the fold in 2023. The results were similarly poor. New England finished 30th in total yards per game.

With Mayo now in charge, expect the Patriots to return to a more traditional approach to filling out their staff with specific, defined titles -- at least, as it concerns the coaching staff. How the Patriots make personnel decisions remains undefined, with Kraft repeatedly declining Wednesday to provide a concrete decision-making hierarchy.

"I think titles are important," Mayo said. "I know, no knock to Coach Belichick, who has been a huge mentor to me over the years as a player and a colleague. What I'd say is, I believe titles are important, outward looking.

"But as far as in the building, I don't care what your title is. It's what's your job? What value do you bring to the organization? I think that's the most important thing is something I think in business and sports people get caught up in titles, but I also understand the other side, if you want to continue to get promoted people have to know exactly what you do. But like I said earlier, inside it's all about collaboration. That's what Thunder talked about."

Judging by Mayo's tone, it sounds as if some divisions formed within New England's building in recent years. Mayo even went so far as to admit one of his first tasks is to eliminate these chasms in the name of collaboration, especially on the offensive side. In Mayo's view, New England needs to return to a place where each member holds each other accountable in the name of one goal: winning.

"Well first of all, just the energy, the passion, the leaders on the offensive side of the ball," Mayo said when asked about how he'll get the Patriots' offense back on track. "I think you have to get that stuff in place, and honestly, as the season starts to roll, well this season when it ends, we start in the weight room. I think the weight room is one of the most important areas in the building to really evaluate the people you have on your team. And one thing we don't want to do is have people who are complainers, or finger-pointing, or things like that.

"And I don't want to just talk about offense, but that's across the board, special teams, defense and offense, you want your players to have a sense of accountability. You want your players to have a sense of commitment. You want your players to, when they walk out the door, you're not worried about the decisions they're about to make outside of this building. Once again, I think we have a good foundation, we have a good foundation, and my thing here over the next few weeks is to rebuild some relationships, knock down silos, and collaborate. That's what I'm focused on."

Mayo's introduction would not be complete without noting his place in history among minority coaches. He's the third coach Kraft has hired since he gained ownership of the Patriots in 1994, and the franchise's first Black head coach.

It is evident how much Kraft values Mayo, a former Patriots linebacker who spent his entire career in New England, and whom Kraft first saw as the right man to succeed Belichick during a trip to Israel in 2019. At one point, Kraft even followed Mayo's response to a question by looking over at him and replying with "good answer."

He's proud of his former Patriots captain and All-Pro, whom he hired because of the content of his character, his demonstrated abilities, and his potential.

"Let me say this to you, I'm really colorblind in terms of I know what I feel like on Sunday when we lose," Kraft said, "and I can just tell you that after my family, my passion is with the New England Patriots, and there's something else very close second, but winning at the Patriots is my passion. I want to get the best people I can get.

"I chose the best head coach for this organization. He happens to be a man of color. But I chose him because I believe he's best to do the job."

Mayo, meanwhile, is not overlooking his place in Patriots history. He understands the importance of diversity, which he sees as a key factor in fostering a collaborative staff with plenty of potential for success. And in this new role, he believes he can be a beacon for a better future.

"I appreciate Thunder and the organization selecting me to be a Black head coach," Mayo said. "I would say what Thunder just talked about, that was in the locker room. You want your locker room to be pretty diverse, and you want the world to look like that.

"What I will say, though, is I do see color because I believe if you don't see color, you can't see racism. Whatever happens, Black, white, disabled person -- even someone with disabilities, for the most part people are like -- when they're young, they kind of make the spot hot. Younger people know what that means. But what I would say is, no, I want you to be able to go up to those people and really understand those people.

"It goes back to whatever it is, Black, white, yellow, it really doesn't matter, but it does matter so we can try to fix the problem that we all know we have."

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