As one of the youngest members of the New England Patriots’ coaching staff, Jerod Mayo has his own way of connecting with his players — some of whom he played alongside just a few short years ago.
During a conference call Tuesday with reporters, Mayo explained how he peppers his personal Instagram story with specially curated photos, quotes and other “nuggets” as a way of motivating New England’s linebackers.
“I read a lot,” said Mayo, who is in his first season as the Patriots’ inside linebackers coach. “Sometimes people need those nuggets. I don’t like to post about just things, material things. I just like to drop little nuggets of wisdom, and I’m hopeful, honestly, that my linebackers see those posts. It definitely helps motivate me.
“You know, the season is long. Sometimes you need those words of encouragement. It’s definitely an up-and-down season, even though we’re sitting here at 8-1. Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back and realize that, and some of those quotes helps with that.”
Mayo’s troops have looked plenty motivated this season.
Powered by a deep and versatile linebacking corps and an experienced, ball-hawking secondary, the Patriots’ defense leads the NFL in points allowed, total defense and interceptions and ranks fourth in sacks entering Sunday’s Week 11 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. (New England is operating without an official defensive coordinator, with Mayo, head coach Bill Belichick and safeties/secondary coach Steve Belichick sharing those responsibilities.)
Mayo, who played for the Patriots from 2008 through 2015, then joined Belichick’s coaching staff four years later, also discussed the way social media has dramatically changed the locker room culture over the 11 1/2 seasons since his playing career began.
“I think it’s by a player-by-player basis,” Mayo said. “I remember when I first came into the league, you think about the room. It was Junior Seau, Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi — guys who had flip phones. They had flip phones for the longest time. They still had Blackberries in their pockets. So they weren’t even really thinking about social media, so when you would go in the locker room, I would say that just the overall vibe, you were in there playing cards and things like that.
“Now, the younger generation, they’re checking their social media and things like that. But I think the players around here do a good job, when they’re in the building, of really focusing on football. But if I had to say something that’s changed, I’m sure when they’re on their phones, they’re checking that stuff. As far as how it kind of affects them — what people say on social media and things like that — I really don’t think they take much into that. You know, everyone isn’t a Patriots fan, so I think they realize that.”