Jerod Mayo

Next Pats Podcast: What are Patriots getting in LB Josh Uche from Michigan?

Next Pats Podcast: What are Patriots getting in LB Josh Uche from Michigan?

To say new Patriots linebacker Josh Uche is a quick study doesn't quite cover it.

The newly drafted linebacker from Michigan, selected in the second round, 60th overall, joined our Phil Perry via video conference on the latest edition of the Next Pats Podcast and revealed how quickly he picked up the basics of the Patriots defense and the nearly instant rapport he developed with his new position coach, former Pats linebacker Jerod Mayo.

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"The first WebEx meeting I had with the Patriots was with Coach Mayo and he taught me the defense in, I'd want to say, two minutes," Uche told Perry. "And he taught it to me so well that I was able to recite it to him after when he started asked questions, 'OK, what do you do when this happens, this, this and this?" That's just a testament how good a coach he is just in a short amount of time he could teach me the basics of the defense. I definitely feel like Coach Mayo is the best in the business."

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Perry also talked with Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown about the versatile Uche and how he'll fit with the Patriots. 

"They're getting a gym rat. A guy who just loves ball," Brown said. "He's around the building all the time, around the coaches all the time. Guys who get drafted as high as Josh have an elite quality and his ability to rush certainly jumps off the screen when you watch his tape. It's no accident because he really works hard at his craft."

Uche, 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, appeared to quickly grasp New England's "Do Your Job" philosophy when he told reporters the night he was drafted that he's perfect for the Pats because he's "a hard-ass worker." 

It's his versatility that added to his appeal to the Patriots. Still, Uche leaves little doubt about his favorite thing to do on the football field: 

"If I had to pick one, definitely it'd be pass rushing. I love pass rushing. I've been doing it since I was a kid. And it's just something I'm constantly trying to perfect."

For the complete discussion with Uche and Brown, listen to the Next Pats Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or watch on YouTube below:

 

Jerod Mayo details how he uses social media to motivate Patriots linebackers

Jerod Mayo details how he uses social media to motivate Patriots linebackers

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is notoriously averse to social media.

But that doesn't mean his assistants can't hop on Instagram every once in a while.

Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo has done exactly that, frequently posting motivational and thought-provoking messages to his Instagram story throughout his first season as an NFL assistant.

Turns out those posts aren't just for cheap likes. During a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Mayo admitted to our Phil Perry that he uses the messages in part to motivate the Patriots' linebacking corps.

"I read a lot. Sometimes people need those nuggets," Mayo said. "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."

Whatever Mayo is doing to motivate New England's linebackers, it's working: The "Boogeymen" arguably have been the best linebacking corps in the NFL through nine games, with Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy playing some of the best football of their careers.

That group is being tested amid the Patriots' toughest stretch of the season -- five straight games against NFL playoff hopefuls -- but Mayo hopes his social media messages can play a small part in keeping morale high.

"The season is long. Sometimes you need those words of encouragement," Mayo added. "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."

Credit Mayo for utilizing a tool that was much less relevant when he played in New England from 2008 to 2015. Mayo has seen first-hand how social media has changed NFL locker room dynamics -- to an extent.

"I remember when I first came into the league, you think about the room: Junior Seau, Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi -- guys who had flip phones," Mayo said. " ... 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, really focusing on football."

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Report: Steve Belichick is Patriots defensive play-caller

Report: Steve Belichick is Patriots defensive play-caller

The Patriots defense is off to a historic start, having allowed only 40 points in their first eight games. And they've done it without a defensive coordinator.

As has been Bill Belichick's custom recently (as in last season with then-linebackers coach-now-Dolphins coach Brian Flores), there's no coordinator per se, but a defensive play-caller. Who that was this season  - among Belichick, first-year inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and secondary coach Steve Belichick - has been unclear.  

Steve Belichick, the head coach's son, has been calling defensive plays for weeks, multiple Patriots players confirmed to the Boston Herald.  

Mayo, who has garnered significant attention in his first season on the coaching staff, was calling the plays in the preseason but according to the Herald's Andrew Callahan, "passed the play sheet over to his old film room partner" in the regular season. The story chronicles how Mayo, as an injured linebacker, and the younger Belichick, as a coaching assistant, had spent a lot of time together in previous seasons looking at film together.

That's not to say that there couldn't be someone else looking over their shoulders. More from Callahan's story:

Bill Belichick remains ever-observant on the sideline, jotting notes and getting a feel for the game. Whenever he deems necessary, the head man will turn from the field and address his defense with an adjustment.

Safe to assume that even with one defensive play-caller, maneuvering the NFL's best defense remains a collaborative effort. 

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