Following a disappointing campaign where the team missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, the Patriots have made an announcement that should put fans at ease.
In a press release on Thursday night, the team announced the following: the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick have begun contract extension discussions with Jerod Mayo that would keep him with the team long-term. In addition, the team will begin interviewing for offensive coordinator candidates beginning next week.
The Patriots are working to retain Mayo, a hot commodity in an already busy hiring cycle for head coach and defensive coordinators. The Pats linebackers coach was set to interview with the Panthers for their head coaching vacancy and the Browns as a potential defensive coordinator candidate. However, it now appears he won't be going anywhere.
Mayo works closely with fellow linebackers coach Steve Belichick to develop game plans and present the team's plans for upcoming opponents to the players. Although Belichick calls the defense on game day, Mayo has a significant role in sideline procedures and is as well-respected in the organization as any coach on the staff.
New England's defense finished third in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric and was 11th in points per game allowed (20.4) in the 2022 regular season.
The Patriots have not formally announced a promotion for Mayo as a part of their ongoing extensions talks. But Mayo will have a significant role on the defensive side of the ball, and keeping him for the foreseeable future could put Mayo on track to become the team's next head coach.
Although it was evident that changes were needed on offense, Thursday night's announcement was unprecedented for the Patriots in the Belichick era. The Pats head coach is typically stealthy about filling out his coaching staff, but the offense's struggles warrant a direct approach.
According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots total DVOA (-8.5, 24th) was their worst since 1995. With the worst offensive efficiency in 27 seasons, New England's offensive setup featuring Matt Patricia as the play-caller and Joe Judge coaching quarterbacks saw major regression for second-year quarterback Mac Jones. After an above-average rookie season, Jones regressed from the 16th-ranked passer by ESPN's QBR metric (56.9) to 28th out of 31 qualified quarterbacks in QBR in 2022 (35.9).
Longtime Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels's departure to become the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders left a massive void, and McDaniels took several position coaches with him to Vegas as well. Still, the unconventional setup on offense was a failure, and Thursday's announcement acknowledges that.
As for offensive coordinator candidates, one would assume that former Patriots and Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is a top target, while recently fired Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury could also be in the running.
Kingsbury, who piloted successful offenses in the college ranks at Texas Tech and initially in Arizona, was drafted by Belichick in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft as a quarterback.
We'll need to wait and see who the Patriots have in for formal interviews for their vacant offensive coordinator position next week. But changes are coming, and that's a relief.