The Broncos continued their head-coaching interviews on Wednesday, as George Paton and Co. spoke with Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo.
Mayo, a seven-time team captain as a player, is in his third year on the Patriots' staff. He is one of two candidates who currently serves as a position coach.
To learn more about Mayo and his candidacy for the role, DenverBroncos.com spoke with ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Aric DiLalla: Jerod Mayo is one of two coaches that's not a coordinator that the Broncos have interviewed. How do you think he got on the radar for a head-coaching interview?
Mike Reiss: "His leadership is probably the main reason that he's on the radar. You talk to people that have been around him, both in his playing career and also in his coaching career and even in his business career, and they will tell you he is one of the greatest leaders that they have ever been around. Obviously leadership entails a lot of different things. I think one of the things that Jerod is known for is his ability to relate to people. And so put that all together: playing career, business career — after he played, because he didn't go right into coaching — now coaching career, intelligent — super intelligent — all those things sort of lead to the package that has him being talked about."
AD: How much of the leadership do you think comes from being a former player and team captain — and being able to translate those skills to his coaching career?
MR: "I think quite a bit of it. That obviously helps, right? He's been in a locker room. He understands the dynamics of a locker room. He understands the dynamics of the player-coach relationship. I think it goes even deeper than that. It's just his upbringing and who he is as a person. He came in to New England in 2008 and a lot of the veterans that were here at that time — Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel — they were sort of like, 'Wow.' As a rookie, this guy was like a veteran. It was even before he became an NFL player that he was making an impression. If I'm not mistaken, it was just his second year that he was named a captain in New England, which is almost unheard of. It has to be rare air for that to happen. He's one of the few that ascended to the captaincy by his second season. So definitely that's part of it, but I wouldn't want to undersell [how] he was brought up and had really good influences. This was a special guy even going back to Tennessee when he played in college."
AD: I know he's the inside linebackers coach, but it seems like in New England, the coaches do a little bit more than what the title suggests. What's your understanding of his role on the coaching staff? I've seen him mentioned as almost a co-defensive coordinator.
MR: "Well said by you in terms of the title not always reflecting the responsibilities. The actual title is inside linebackers coach. Watching him during the game days, my read on what he does is he's in charge of the personnel groupings. You want to go nickel? He's the point person that's making sure nickel gets on the field. You want to go dime? Jerod's the point person for that communication. He's not holding the play sheet to make the calls on defense. That looks like Steve Belichick to me, the outside linebackers coach. That's why I think you sort of hear the co-defensive coordinator, because you have one guy calling the plays, it looks like, in Steve Belichick — and Bill Belichick, the head coach, has sort of referenced that in the past, that Steve has called the plays — and you have another guy signaling in the personnel packages, that's Jerod, right there on the front lines, very active in what's happening defensively. And then you have Bill himself, Bill Belichick, who you watch on the sideline and he's always flipping through the still pictures of, you presume, what they're looking at from the other team's offense. So Bill is still involved defensively. It's sort of like that trio, however you want to piece it together, that's my read on what's happening defensively and where Jerod fits in the whole scheme of things. I think it would be interesting to talk to players and sort of really drill down and say, 'OK, when you go from your full team meeting to your defensive meeting, who's leading that discussion in the room?' My sense of it — and I don't know this for sure — is there might be a mix of sorts, depending on what they're talking about or trying to accomplish that day."
AD: In New England, some assistants have had rapid ascensions. Do you think it's realistic that Jerod will have a head-coaching job here soon, or do you think the next step is to be a more traditional defensive coordinator first?
MR: "That is a really good question and incredibly hard for me to answer, because I really don't think there's a road map for a lot of these hires. You see some of them, it's so fast. Just use Sean McVay as an example. And then others, you see David Culley, who had to wait until the late stages of his career to get the job, right? So I'm not sure I can answer that, other than I think Jerod is going to be very impressive in the interviews and given the dynamic nature of the head-coaching position in the NFL, I can see him being very appealing to multiple teams. If I had to handicap it, I think he could go right to the head-coaching position right now. What I can say with certainty, and I add this as an important part of this conversation, is the history of Patriots assistants going on to these jobs, right? We have to mention that. What I can also say with certainty is it's a hard job, man, whether you come from the Patriots or not. These jobs are really, really hard. There's a reason there's eight of them open this year."