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Mayo Sets Groundwork, Offers More Transparency With New Staff

Mayo says, "Our relationship with the media is very important."

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
February 22, 2024 at 12:37 pm ET

Mayo Sets Groundwork, Offers More Transparency With New Staff(PHOTO: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 5 minutes

With the Patriots turning the page in what is now a post-Bill Belichick era, one emphasis appears to be clear.

It looks like there will be more transparency between Jerod Mayo, his coaching staff, and the media, which obviously translates into much less mystery within the fan base.

That was an area of frustration with Belichick during a large portion of his tenure, with recent episodes of “The Dynasty” showing how much more open he was in the beginning of his time with the Patriots compared to how things were at the end.

Portions of the footage, especially in his second season during the Tom Brady/Drew Bledsoe controversy, certainly showed a sharp contrast of how different things ultimately became here.  Belichick didn’t necessarily tell reporters what they wanted to hear, but he was pretty transparent with how he felt about the situation, albeit he limited how much detail he was willing to go into.

Fast-forward 22 years later and look back at the press conferences talking about Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe, or Malik Cunningham.  He didn’t want to talk about any of it.  That often led to a lot of speculation, both within the media and the fan base.

That was fine when the team was winning championships. But as people looked to Belichick when the club finally experienced adversity, he didn’t offer much to help make sense of things or to quell a lot of the frustration.

Judging how things went on Wednesday, it looks like things will be significantly different moving forward.  Mayo even went so far as to let everyone know that would be the case.

“They know that our relationship with the media is very important,” said Mayo, referring to his fellow coaches.  “I think there needs to be a good relationship between the two groups. Hopefully, I’ll try to make myself available as much as possible. But, at the same time, today is really just about the new coaches and the coordinators.”

Troy Brown

(PHOTO: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

Is Troy Brown Still With the Patriots?

Mayo spoke briefly on Wednesday and covered a variety of topics, letting reporters know that despite where they currently are from a staff standpoint, they’re still exploring other potential roles that may be filled.

He also let everyone know that Troy Brown was still a part of the coaching staff, although he didn’t elaborate and said the staff “is still pretty fluid,” so what that means is difficult to speculate on.

Brown’s future with the team has felt a little murky, with Brown reportedly not spotted wearing any team gear during his time working at the Senior Bowl last month.  That led to some believing the Patriots might have been letting him continue getting experience along with a chance to network for another opportunity.

Instead, Brown is apparently still on the staff.  However, as far as what capacity that might be, it’s tough to say.  The club recently hired Tyler Hughes as its receivers coach, which essentially takes over the role Brown has held since 2021.

Hughes, who previously spent three seasons as an offensive assistant before moving on to the University of Washington as the school’s quality control coach on offense last season, will now handle a position group that is certainly among the most critical when it comes to a development standpoint.  He’ll also be working with former Patriots wideout Tyquan Underwood, who was also recently hired as an assistant wide receivers coach.

Hughes was featured during a 2021 “Do Your Job” episode among other coaches, talking about how he broke down film and other aspects of his duties.  That came during his second season with the team, and it’s safe to say that his time this season will be one many will be keeping an eye on.

The Patriots have had their fair share of difficulties in recent years when it comes to developing receivers, including having virtually no luck drafting early round talent at that position.  That’s left their offense devoid of explosive talent, forcing them to look for it elsewhere.

That definitely can’t continue.  Knowing the high cost of free agency surrounding those players, developing their own from within is going to have to be something they get better at.  Failing to do that would force them to have to explore bringing in high-priced free agents, preventing them from having money to spend elsewhere.

For now, both Hughes and Underwood are tasked with making sure that happens, leaving everyone wondering what role Brown might now have moving forward.

(PHOTO: David Butler II – USA TODAY Sports)

Mayo Bringing Along Hightower

Apparently, coaching has been something that had been on Dont’a Hightower’s mind going back to his playing days.

Mayo said on Wednesday that it’s been a conversation that had continued, and after what he called “an extensive search” as he explored his options, it just felt like the right fit.

“Hightower, he was my little brother when he got here and one of the smartest players that I’ve been around,” said Mayo.  “We’ve been talking about this for a while. I’ll be honest with you. We’ve been talking about it for a while. Hightower has always really wanted to coach. He was a coach on the field. Obviously, he took the torch and ran with it.”

“As far as the championships and the leadership skills that he has, it was very important, but it wasn’t like a yesterday, ‘hey man, you want to be my linebacker coach’? This was an extensive search.”

Mayo went on to add that his hope is that Hightower will follow his lead and take a similar journey, staying close to both he and defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington as he gets comfortable as a member of the coaching staff.

“Just to be a sponge, the same way he was when he came in as a player,” said Mayo on what advice he’s tried to give him.  “Just try to learn from as many people as possible. When I got here, I could talk about my journey. You have a guy like DeMarcus Covington, who really started off on offense, moved over to defense, quality control, then all of a sudden, he’s coaching the linebackers without the linebacker tag.”

“He’s going to the front, but he had an extensive knowledge of different position groups. Also, I would say he really helped me with the behind-the-scenes stuff – the drawing of the cards and setting up practice and things like that. Steve [Belichick] helped me as well, but I spent a lot of time with DC and am confident in what he’s taught me. So, with Hightower, he should do the same thing.”

Mayo: Offense is “an ego-free zone”

Obviously, the offensive side of the football will be one everybody will be watching in 2024, especially given how bad things went last season.

The Patriots finished tied with Carolina with the lowest point total in the NFL with 236 points, including tied for 28th with the Vikings worst in first-quarter scoring (40 total points) in the NFL.

The club hired Alex Van Pelt this offseason as its offensive coordinator, along with Ben McAdoo as an offensive assistant.  The goal is to hopefully see a significant turnaround next season.

Mayo said that he wants a smart team with players who check their egos at the door for one common goal – winning football games.

“I’m expecting, first and foremost, a tough team. I think after that, it really gets into smart players,” said Mayo.  “You don’t have to be a genius, but you have to be smart enough, and really, explosive players and guys that really play for one another. We want to check our egos. Even from a coaching staff, I say it’s an ego-free zone. Once we get the coaches on that same page.”

We’ll see what all this means, but a lot of what was discussed on Wednesday was certainly refreshing.  At the same time, as nice as it is to have more transparency, it won’t mean much if the team doesn’t take some significant steps forward in 2024 as they look to get things back on track after a 4-13 finish last season.

READ NEXT:
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About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for PatsFans.com, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.


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