Patriots coach Jerod Mayo wants to improve team's 'overall vibe'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass -- Jerod Mayo was officially introduced as the 15th head coach in New England Patriots history on Wednesday, saying one of his goals is to "rebuild some relationships" and "knock down silos" in establishing a collaborative team culture.

Mayo, who was quickly named Bill Belichick's successor last Friday, explained in an interview with ESPN that he hopes that collaboration touches all parts of the organization.

"The information flow has kind of been put on one person, and that's Coach [Belichick]. But he's able to handle that. Me, as a first-year head coach, I don't want [that]," Mayo told ESPN. "I'm in the learning phase, whether learning from the scouts, coaches, the Kraft family, even the media. I want to hopefully just improve the overall vibe."

Mayo also noted his standing as the first Black head coach in franchise history, adding that Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was among those who reached out to him with a congratulatory message.

"You'd better believe being the first Black [head] coach here in New England means a lot to me ... I do see color because I believe if you don't see color, you can't see racism," Mayo said.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft relayed that wasn't part of his consideration in the hire.

"Let me say this to you: I'm really colorblind in terms of I know what I feel like on Sunday when we lose, and I can just tell you that after my family, my passion is with the New England Patriots ... and I want to get the best people I can get," Kraft said. "I chose the best head coach for this organization. He happens to be a man of color."

Mayo and Kraft held a news conference inside Gillette Stadium, which was attended by Mayo's family, several current players, and many team employees, including much of the Patriots' personnel department.

Kraft cited a 2019 trip to Israel, in which Mayo accompanied him among others, as an experience that "helped strengthen my convictions about how special Jerod is as a person and how capable I thought he would be as a head coach in this league."

Kraft later added that his conviction was similar to 1997 when he wanted to hire Bill Belichick [then a Patriots assistant] as head coach, but ultimately regretted waiting until 2000 to do so. He shared that he didn't want to make the same mistake with Mayo, which is why he put succession-plan language in the contract extension Mayo signed last offseason.

"I think we've got someone very special who understands how to manage young people today," he said.

Mayo acknowledged that succeeding Belichick, who won six Super Bowl championships as head coach, puts him in a unique situation. Mayo, 37, played for Belichick from 2008-15 and was an assistant coach on his staff since 2019.

"Bill always says, 'managing expectations' and for me, I'm not trying to be Bill. Bill is his own man. If you can't tell by now, I'm a little bit different," he said. "But what I will say is the more I think about lessons I've taken from Bill, hard work works. And that's what we're all about."

One lingering question is who the Patriots will tap to lead their personnel department, as Belichick had final say on those decisions.

Kraft said the current plan is to lean on those in place -- a group headlined by director of player personnel Matt Groh, director of scouting Eliot Wolf, senior personnel advisor Patrick Stewart, director of pro scouting Steve Cargile and college scouting director Camren Williams -- while leaving options open.

"We have a lot of people internally who have had a chance to ... learn under the greatest coach of all time and a man whose football intellect is very special. In the short-term, we're looking for collaboration. We're counting on our internal people whom we're still learning and evaluating," Kraft said.

"So, we're going to let that evolve and develop and before key decisions have to be made, we will appoint someone. At the same time, we'll probably start doing interviews and looking at people from the outside."