Patriots DE Keion White Calls Belichick-Mayo Transition ‘All Different’ & ‘Pretty Similar’

Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo

Getty A New England Patriots edge-rusher made a strong statement about the differences between Bill Belichick and new head coach Jerod Mayo.

It hasn’t taken long for New England Patriots defensive end Keion White to notice a difference in style between new head coach Jerod Mayo and predecessor Bill Belichick.

White spoke to reporters after OTAs and pinpointed one definite change since Mayo took over, per Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith: “We don’t got Bill cursing us out every play anymore, but it’s still pretty similar.”

Belichick’s gruff demeanor wasn’t for everybody, but White was a fan: “I miss it. I like Bill. He’s my type of coach, like a hard-(expletive). I like that. I respond well to things like that.”

Ultimately though, the second-year edge defender respects Mayo for doing things his way: “Mayo’s done a pretty good job, too. It’s all different. Mayo’s doing a really good job of staying true to himself, not trying to fill somebody else’s shoes, but create his own path, and I really respect that.”

Whether a more gentle method of teaching works or not, the Patriots are undergoing an increasing amount of change since Belichick parted ways with the franchise. Mayo doesn’t have to match the sharp tongue of his old boss, provided he can prove his equal in the X’s and O’s, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, where the Patriots remain strong.

Jerod Mayo Has to Be Different From Bill Belichick

The Belichick way had grown stale during his final years. There’s no other way to view New England’s rapid decline after six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020.

Without Brady’s brand of magic, Belichick’s drill sergeant act alone couldn’t paper over the cracks. The Pats endured three losing seasons out of four, a miserable run culminating in a 4-11 finish in 2023.

That record prompted Mayo’s promotion from inside linebackers coach to the top job. The 38-year-old needs to forge his own path. He’ll get nowhere trying to be the same coach as Belichick.

Frankly, that’s not what the Patriots want. Rumors have been rife that team owner Robert Kraft had grown tired of Belichick, even going as far as scuppering the latter’s chances of being hired by the Atlanta Falcons, according to ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Jeremy Fowler.

They reported on April 17, how Kraft spoke to Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank and “delivered a stark assessment of Belichick’s character, according to a source who spoke to two people: a close Kraft friend and a longtime Belichick confidant. The source quoted the Belichick source as saying, ‘Robert called Arthur to warn him not to trust Bill.’ That account was backed up, the source said, by the close Kraft friend.”

Regardless of the extent of any tension between owner and coach, the ESPN report also noted how “Even Belichick was aware that his head coach/GM hybrid had fallen out of favor around the league, sources said.”

The post-Belichick Patriots have already embraced that change. Eliot Wolf’s increased role in roster building is proof of the new way.

Mayo’s interactions with the players Wolf chooses, as well as the holdovers from Belichick’s tenure, is the next necessary change. Ideally, it will inspire improvement across the board, particularly for an intriguing talent like White.

Keion White Needs Second-Year Leap

He’s got the raw tools to wreck blocking schemes from multiple spots, but White struggled to finish plays as a rookie. The versatile 25-year-old recorded just one sack in 16 games, but did generate 13 pressures, per Pro Football Reference.

White has the upside to be a more prolific quarterback hunter. He showed a good speed-to-power combination to create this pressure against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1, on a play highlighted by Nate Tice of The Athletic.

Being able to play traditional defensive end, standup outside linebacker or slide inside to D-tackle makes White a useful member of New England’s pass-rush schemes. What Mayo needs is for White to make a bigger impact off the edge.

The Pats still have talent on the outside. Notably, veteran Matthew Judon, along with Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings.

It’s a capable trio, but Judon is 31 and coming off a season-ending torn biceps. Uche thrives in a situational role, while Jennings is more effective stopping the run than rushing the passer.

At 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, White can become the every down edge-setter and power rusher the Patriots need. Provided he responds to Mayo’s Belichick-lite style of coaching.

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