Jerod Mayo is one of a select few top-5 LBs in both Re-Draft and Dynasty formats
Jerod Mayo, a former 10th overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft has been a pivotal component of the Patriots defense since his rookie season. Mayo has morphed into a big-time playmaker, but his lack of Ray Lewis-esque vocal leadership skills keeps him an underrated player in the NFL. Mayo has led the league in tackles four times during his six-year career, but has never delivered at making game changing plays at critical moments in big time games. During the Tedy Bruschi era, players like Bruschi, Willie McGinest, and Rodney Harrison were among the top vocal leaders on the team, especially the defensive unit. When a player failed an assignment, he would hear about it. After missing most of the 2013 season due to a torn Achilles ligament, here are five steps that Mayo must take to become a better player:
1. Get Healthy
Getting fully recovered and healthy is the most important part of any athletes life to continue playing at a high level. It is so tough for players to return to the field a year removed from a serious injury so it is vital that Mayo first and only concern is get healthy and be prepared as soon as possible.
2. Be more Vocal: The missing aspect of the Patriots that is the difference between a Superbowl berth and another AFC Championship loss is the vocal leaders on the team. Tom Brady is one of the two vocal leaders on the team and Giselle CANT speak for the Patriots and be a supermodel at the same damn time. Jerod Mayo needs to lead the defense and demand perfection on every play and play with a sense of urgency. Mayo CANT be Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest or any other former Patriot, he can only be Jerod Mayo so he must learn to lead and follow in the footsteps of them. After Mayo went down with a injury in week 6, the team struggled. Mayo is now expendable, so is fellow teammate Vince Wilfork. Dont'a Hightower is not on the same level of Mayo, but he did a decent job with filling in the duties he was asked of. He needs to tell players when they screw up and encourage them to do better.
3. More Consistent: Jerod Mayo was the All-pro NFL Defensive Rookie of the year in 2008, leading the NFL with 128 tackles and a forced fumble but since then, he has not had the game-changing statistics that many expect. He has totaled over 700 tackles during his NFL career with the Patriots, but he needs to do more than just make tackles and make bigger plays on a more frequent basis. During his six year career, Mayo has 9.0 quarterback sacks, eight forced fumbles and 18 pass deflections. Not to take any credit from Mayo, but those numbers DONT scream out game-changer, neither does his reputation. Mayo needs to show off his speed and skills to help aid his near-perfect instincts and attack the passer more often and be more physically active on the field.
4. Sense of Urgency
After the adversity the team was forced to cope with regarding frequent injuries to big-time players, Mayo's job and place on the team came into serious question and jeopardy. Second year linebacker, Dont'a Hightower did not live up to expectations when coach Belichick chose him to take over the quarterback duties of the defense. It is not something fellow fourth-year linebacker Brandon Spikes was ready to do at the time either. Down the stretch, the Patriots rush defense became one of the worst and most exposed units in the NFL. The absence of Jerod Mayo exposed the Patriots weak front and porous secondary. With Mayo projected for a return from injury later this year, he must have a big sense of injury.
5. More Aggressive
Jerod Mayo has faced numerous fines and penalties by the league for late hits and being too "aggressive". He was fined $10,000 during a week 10 victory against the Buffalo Bills for a late hit on running back C.J. Spiller out of bounds. There is a big difference between being too aggressive and being aggressive and cautious. Mayo needs to have a better physical presence on the field that establishes the fear factor back into the Patriots defense. He needs to hit harder when making a tackle and make a bigger impact.