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Head Coach Jerod Mayo Press Conference Transcript 2/21

Read the full transcript from Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo's press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, February 21, 2024.


February 21, 2024

JM: Hello everyone. I haven't seen you guys in a while. I think it was in January, really the last time I got a chance to speak with you guys. I appreciate, first of all, you guys coming down. I know there are a lot of unknowns right now, whether we're talking about the draft or free agency. But today is really about the new coaches. We'll have our coordinators up here to speak to you guys. Afterwards, the rest of our new coaches – I think we have 17 new coaches – will come down, and hopefully we'll get a chance to really vibe and connect. They know that our relationship with the media is very important. 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.

Q: Tell us about the process. What it was like for you and how happy are you with the staff that you have?

JM: The process was definitely a learning experience. I've interviewed people in the past before for other jobs, but this one was a little bit different. It was exciting, and I felt like I learned a lot. I learned a lot from the coaches that came in and interviewed that didn't get hired. Hopefully they had a good sense of what we're trying to build here. But, it was good.

Q: You've had this job now for a month, month and a half. What's been the biggest surprise for you so far?

JM: The biggest surprise for me really has been the lack of true football tape that I've had an opportunity to watch. As a head coach, it's a little bit different. Right now, we're trying to continue to nail down the rest of the staff and also get into some of the things we want to do in the near future.

Q: You mentioned learning new things from the coaches you didn't hire. What were a couple of those things?

JM: I don't want to get into X's and O's honestly, not today, but it was mainly about X's and O's and those guys – their leadership philosophies and things like that. It wasn't anything groundbreaking, but at the same time, there were little nuggets that I took away.

Q: Regarding surprises, trusting what you do more, how important was it to have someone with head coaching experience on your staff?

JM: It was very important. It was very important for me to have someone that I could bounce questions off of that has actually sat in that seat. It's been great, and honestly, I have relationships with coaches around the league as well that have offered to help. They're not in the AFC, so that's a good thing.

Q: You interviewed several candidates for offensive coordinator. What did you like about [Alex] Van Pelt and Ben McAdoo as well?

JM: AVP, I'm not exactly sure and I don't want to get into what happened at Cleveland, but all the people that I talk to, they speak very highly of AVP. Obviously, he understands the X's and O's of the game, but also developing talent. Really, he is a relationship guy, which I fundamentally believe is very important. Before you really get into X's and O's with the guys on the field, they've got to know that you care about them. One thing about AVP, which you guys will see here shortly, he is a people person, but also has an extensive knowledge of football.

Q: That offensive coordinator search, at least from afar, seemed wide ranging. A number of different people interviewed. Why was it important to cast such a wide net for that job?

JM: It was my first time doing it. You want to make sure that you have a bar set and then work off of that bar. I feel very good about where our staff is. Once again, there will be one-offs here and there, but it was very important just to talk to as many people as we could so we could get a good feel for who we wanted to hire.

Q: Obviously, you're on the defensive side, and you've schemed against all the best modern offenses. Did you go into this thinking, I went against this offense; I'd like to hire somebody from that tree? Or, how did it work for you?

JM: A little bit. Realistically – I'm not going to talk too much about football – but realistically, on early downs, you're only going to get so many schemes. It's really the third down stuff that you really see coaches start to shine. It was important. Anytime we played Cleveland or teams that – it was at the top of my mind when we played teams like that – you always wonder what are they thinking, and also, what are they thinking about us defensively. I feel like the net that we've cast, I will definitely learn a lot from these guys as well as we prepare for the opponents moving forward.

Q: Can you talk a little bit abut what it was like bringing Dont'a [Hightower] back?

JM: Hightower, he was my little brother when he got here and one of the smartest players that I've been around. 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.

Q: What kind of advice do you have for him entering coaching, kind of a similar situation that you were in?

JM: Just to be a sponge, the same way he was when he came in as a player. 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.

Q: You mentioned the number of new coaches, coupled with the ones that are coming back. It seems like a fairly large staff. What led you to think this number was the best number?

JM: One thing we wanted to make sure of was that we weren't duplicating roles. For us, we were thinking about 'what value does this role bring to the team?'. Historically, we've always had small staffs. It's hard to get things done that way in today's NFL. We weren't really thinking about the size. We were just thinking about, 'how can we make this staff as good as it can be?'. Honestly, after talking to a lot of coaches, your first year coaching, you hope you put together the best staff, but realistically, it's a process.

Q: How much did you rely on Eliot Wolf to help you fill out the staff?

JM: He's been great. He was in all the interviews. He definitely has a lot of contacts and resources outside of the building. From my perspective, all of my football has really been here. It was very important for me to bring in AVP, McAdoo, Eliot. Eliot grew up in the scouting world. He's been at multiple places. It was very important to get their point of view as well.

Q: Do you anticipate making any more additions to the coaching staff at this point?

JM: I would say it's still a process. We're still working through it. There are some roles that we're thinking about, but at the same time, we're pretty set.

Q: With AVP as your offensive coordinator, what are you expecting of your offense on the field.

JM: I'm expecting, first and foremost, a tough team. I think after that, it really gets into smart players. 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 hope that the players will follow suit and go out there and play for one another.

Q: A month ago, this day wasn't here, and now all of the sudden it is. How are you feeling about that, that you're a month later now and you've almost got your final coaching staff and are ready to move on?

JM: It feels great. Like I said, I'm very happy with the coaching staff that we have. After this, you'll get a chance to meet the coordinators, obviously, but our position coaches will play a major part in this team's success.

Q: Are you able to say if Troy Brown is still on the staff, and if so, in what role?

JM: Troy Brown is still on the staff. Once again, I would say the staff is still pretty fluid, but he is on the staff.

Q: What was your relationship like with Eliot prior to you ascending to head coach?

JM: Once Eliot got here, we hit it off the first time we really met. He's one of those guys. He's an ego-free guy. He just wants to win football games. That's what I live by as well. He's been a great partner.

Q: Do you share a similar vision here?

JM: Absolutely. From a team-wide perspective all the way down to individual players, our philosophy matches. We want to put good football players out there that are fast and smart and really play for one another. He sees it the same way.

Q: What role is Robyn Glaser? What duties is she performing for you? She was in on at least some of the interviews.

JM: At this point in time, I just want to focus on the coaches. We'll have other opportunities to really talk about some of the things and some of the roles as it starts to really set in place. Right now, I'm focused on the coordinators. I think we should focus on the coordinators and the assistant coaches.

Q: What attracted you to working with DeMarcus Covington as a defensive coordinator?

JM: Like I said, when I first got here, he showed me a lot of the behind the scenes. It was a mentorship or reverse mentorship, however you want to look at it. I did it on the field, but he also knew how to do the back-end stuff. This is one of those guys as well – I've already talked about this being a relationship business – where he has a great relationship with the players, mind, body, and spirit. He always talks about those things. You can see from the development of the players in his room, he was ready for the job.

Q: In recent years, more and more coaching staffs haven't been showing up to the NFL combine, which is going on next week. Do you envision being there, and because you guys have the number three pick, is this an important one for you?

JM: We're still working through that stuff. We'll talk about it after this mic is out of my face, but at the end of the day, we'll have great representation there. I have nothing but the ultimate faith in Eliot and his staff as well, and also our coaches that are evaluating the players, both in free agency and the draft.

Q: What did you like about Alex Van Pelt's philosophy?

JM: The one thing I would say about AVP is that he can make the same concept look a bunch of different ways. That's always hard for us on the defensive side of the ball. Really, it depends on the players that we have and the flexibility that he has as far as scheme is concerned. He's been cross-trained on multiple teams, and I think that experience and that philosophy is going to do us well in the future.

Q: Did you feel limited at all because of your lack of contacts, and is that where Eliot came in and made up for that in terms of filling out the staff?

JM: We all have strengths and weaknesses, and we're trying to continue to sharpen our swords through people and through their experiences, and at the same time shore up weaknesses or areas to improve. I'm not going to sit up here and act like I have all the answers, because I don't. Eliot's one of those guys I'm going to lean on, and McAdoo's one of those guys I'm going to lean on. AVP, all of those guys are guys that I feel like I can lean on a lot, as well as ownership. They've been very supportive of what we've done.

Q: Filling out the offensive staff under Alex, did he make recommendations, or did he have power over that hiring process?

JM: I think one important thing for offensive coordinators is really to have the ability to have major input in hiring their own staff. You don't want to have to teach your coaches, as well as now these guys you're going to teach. You want them to have a fundamental understanding of their scheme. In saying that, I would say it was a combination between Eliot, myself, [Matt] Groh, and AVP to really nail the staff down.

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