Jerod Mayo has been open about his ambition to be an NFL head coach, and he might not need to wait long to get there.
Mayo, who hadn’t coached football at any level before he was hired as the New England Patriots’ inside linebackers coach in 2019, last week appeared on a list of rising head-coaching candidates compiled by NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero. He appeared on last year’s edition, as well.
Asked about his inclusion during a Monday morning video conference, Mayo reiterated that he has his sights set on a head-coaching role.
“It’s definitely an honor,” the 35-year-old former linebacker said. “I definitely aspire to be a head coach in this league. At the same time, I would say I’m really focused on this season. We’ll see what happens at the end of the year.”
Mayo helps coordinate New England’s defense alongside head coach Bill Belichick and outside linebackers coach Steve Belichick. That defense has been arguably the NFL’s best this season, allowing a league-low 16.1 points per game through 11 weeks. Over their last three games, the Patriots defense has scored more touchdowns (two) than it’s allowed (one).
That defensive resurgence, coupled with Mayo’s long-held reputation as an excellent leader, should make him an attractive candidate during the upcoming hiring cycle. Mayo interviewed for Philadelphia’s head-coaching vacancy last season, and the Eagles reportedly “came away impressed with his rare leadership traits,” though they ultimately hired Nick Sirianni.
Pelissero’s watch list also included another Patriots assistant. Tight ends/fullbacks coach Nick Caley was among dozens of coaches listed under “Others to watch in coming years.” The 38-year-old Caley downplayed the nod.
“Honestly, I try not to get caught up in a lot of those things,” Caley said. “Obviously, I’ve got aspirations professionally to grow, like a lot of guys. But to be honest with you, I’ve always stuck to the recipe of just trying to focus on the job that I have, be where my feet are. That’s worked for me. Try to be the best tight ends coach, honestly, that I can here, and that’s what my focus has been on.
“I’ve never been one to really try to get ahead of myself there. Obviously, I’ve got to do a better job here each week. So I don’t put a whole lot of stock into things like that. Honestly, I don’t have much time to read stuff like that during the season. I’ve just been focused on trying to be the best version of myself, obviously, that I can be here to help this team.”
The 7-4 Patriots are preparing to host the 8-3 Tennessee Titans on Sunday.