There’s a surefire way to piss off a coach and/or player, and that’s to name or draft their successor. Nobody enjoys confronting the mortality of their career on someone else’s terms — and it’s happening in New England, again. You’d think the franchise that pushed out Tom Brady would learn from its mistakes, but now Bill Belichick is on the receiving end of replacement talk.
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During league meetings Monday, Robert Kraft told NFL Network’s Judy Bautista that Jerod Mayo is a “strong candidate” to be the team’s “heir apparent” to the Hoodie.
Here’s Kraft’s entire comment for context.
“Well, [Mayo is] definitely a strong candidate to be the heir apparent, but we have some other good people in our system. So right now, we have a good head coach, and we’re doing everything we can to support him, and make sure we do everything we can to win.”
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Pro Football Talk also reported Kraft told other inquiring minds that “there’s no ceiling on [Mayo’s] ability to be a head coach” and that he hopes “he’s with us.” Even going as far as to say he’ll “do everything I can to make” sure the rising assistant coach remains in Foxborough for the long run.
No indication from Bill Belichick that he’s retiring
While Kraft’s love for Mayo probably isn’t news to Bill, this is now a public dalliance that Belichick is going to get questions about. He hasn’t said he’s retiring, and I can’t wait to see how he grumbles his way through those news conferences. It’s not going to be a pleasurable experience for any party involved other than the ones commenting on the internet.
The thing about the Brady-Jimmy Garoppolo drama is you couldn’t hide or skew the matter because there’s a depth chart. We likely could’ve guessed who Kraft wanted to take over for Belichick, but it’s out there now.
If another front office is looking to bring the Patriot Way to its organization, New England just dubbed Mayo as the best candidate to do it. That’s going to accelerate the timeline, and it puts Belichick in the unfavorable position of trying to maintain his staff while not-so-subtly being forced out.
Keeping your assistants is a hard thing to do unless you have a fuck ton of undesirables running your defense and calling your offense — which was largely the case in Boston last year. We know about Matt Patricia and Joe Judge playing build-a-block with Mac Jones. That was a running joke (for me at least), but the defense wasn’t. Mayo, the inside linebackers coach in title, was the unofficial co-defensive coordinator with Steve Belichick, and that unit was not the problem in 2022.
Ex-Patriots aren’t endorsing the Hoodie’s offspring like they are with Mayo, and I can’t imagine the nepotism is going over all that great in Boston. It might be with Kraft, who at one point or another employed all four of his sons, but the NFL is a results-based industry, and not whatever department Johnny, Davey Joshy, and Danny are in charge of at the Kraft Group.
Does Mayo even want the job?
We saw how Jim Boeheim handled having a successor at Syracuse, which was to be a defiant asshole about it and put it on the university, which finally called his bluff this month. Mike Krzyzewski’s succession was a little messy, too, and that’s kind of how it goes with legacy coaches. The risk of keeping them is exemplified by the Orange, who lost Mike Hopkins because he was sick of being strung along by Boeheim, and who’s to say Mayo wants to do that?
Following Belichick is going to be damn-near impossible, and Boston doesn’t always have the most patient or, umm, accepting fan bases. If you’re going to be a first-time head coach in the NFL, why try with a staff full of miscast assistant coaches and a weird roster that only Belichick could win eight games with?
I mean, it’s nice to hear an owner indicate that he’s leaning toward hiring a Black head coach, so I’m not going to knock him for that. Actually, maybe that was Kraft’s exact line of thinking. “No one is going to hire Mayo out from under us because the NFL doesn’t hire Black coaches, and thus Mayo would be an idiot not to stick it out for this opportunity. So, fuck it, Jerod Mayo, coach in waiting.”
There. It’s done. I’ve cracked the case. You’re welcome.
Original source here
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