Tedy Bruschi: Bill Belichick should name official defensive coordinator for Patriots

"I think [either Jerod Mayo or Steve Belichick] needs to be named defensive coordinator. It's gotta be somebody."

Jerod Mayo Steven Belichick Patriots
Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi says Bill Belichick should name either Jerod Mayo (left) or Steve Belichick the team's defensive coordinator. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff).
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The Patriots face a number of questions about how they’ll structure their offensive coaching staff now that longtime offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels has gone to take the Las Vegas Raiders head coaching job.

The hiring of former New England assistant and New York Giants head coach Joe Judge as an “offensive assistant” added another layer of intrigue to the situation. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported after Judge’s return that the Patriots might not hire an offensive coordinator and might simply shift responsibilities, including play-calling, around among the current staff. The team could still make a run at an outside coordinator like Alabama’s Bill O’Brien (another old Patriot), but no fruit has yet come from those discussions.


But Patriots Hall of Famer Tedy Bruschi says New England also has to think about who will lead the defensive unit going forward.

The Patriots have toyed with having both inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and outside linebackers coach Steve Belichick having significant roles in the team’s defensive game-planning the last two seasons. But Bruschi believes the time for experimentation is over.

“I think one of them needs to be named defensive coordinator. It’s gotta be somebody,” he said. “Just give them the jump. Give them the authority. Let them develop.”

Steve Belichick is on record currently as being the Patriots’ defensive play-caller over the last two years, something that was emphasized on multiple occasions this season by broadcasts and by Bill Belichick himself in 2021.

Mayo, however, has reportedly performed many of the functions of a defensive coordinator (minus play-calling) according to CLNS Media’s Evan Lazar, giving presentations to the defense and controlling personnel groups during games.

This disjointed dynamic might have led to some issues with the Patriots’ defense out of the bye week after Bill Belichick, who Lazar wrote had taken on a bigger role in the defense during the team’s seven-game winning streak, handed the reins back to his assistants.


Mayo has confirmed he will return to the Patriots’ staff this coming season after coming up empty in his head-coaching interviews with the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders and not taking a defensive coordinator promotion elsewhere. As such, the team could opt to continue its current arrangement with him and the younger Belichick.

Naming either Mayo or Steve Belichick the defensive coordinator could finally coalesce the unit around one voice. Though Bruschi said he doesn’t have insight into what the Patriots might do in such a choice, he did suggest Mayo as potentially a better option for that role.

“I don’t think Mayo’s there for very long,” the ex-Patriots linebacker said. “He’s already getting head coaching interviews. His name is out there as a good, young upcoming coach…it’s only a matter of time for me with Jerod.

“So do you go that way? If Mayo goes up first, he’s now the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, is he gone in a year or two? Then Steve can take it from there. Is that a smoother transition? That’s something he has to consider also.”


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