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Jabrill Peppers Talks Mayo’s Leadership, Belichick’s Impact, and Covington’s Influence

The Patriots began their offseason program earlier this week, formally kicking off the Jerod Mayo era.

The first-year head coach has much to prove as the successor to an all-time great. But players expressed confidence in the career-Patroit on Tuesday afternoon, with Jabrill Peppers telling reporters it didn’t take long for him to recognize Mayo’s potential.

“Even my first year here, I felt like he could be a head coach just by how he commanded the room, his attention to detail, how he got the best out of his guys. And I think one of the greatest qualities a head coach can have is his knowledge of the game, how he teaches it. Everyone learns differently. So you have to be good across the board so all players get conveyed the right information.”

Difficult times come with the territory during a rebuild, and the Patriots seem at least two years away from being legitimate playoff contenders. Those struggles can make it difficult to retain buy-in, but Peppers seemed confident in his new head coach, in part because of Mayo’s ability to adjust to what’s needed at the moment.

“He’s a leader of men. He knows how to motivate you, get the best out of you. [He’s a] playful guy. But when it’s time to play, when it’s time to work, it’s time to work. So I saw it early. And I’m just happy we didn’t lose him anywhere else.”

Mayo’s background as a player has come up whenever current players have been asked about what makes him special. Peppers went into detail on how that translates behind the scenes.

“When a guy knows not only what it takes to get here but to stay here and be successful, play it at the highest level, play it in the biggest game, it just gives you a different sense. I feel as though, even when the young guys come in, a guy who sat in their seats before, they’re more inclined to listen to what he has to say. No matter how hard-headed they are.

I think that with his knowledge of actually playing and then learning under Bill, and with the rest of the coaches, I think it’s definitely a good thing. A lot of former players have had success in this league. So we’re going to do our due diligence to make them look good and see where this thing goes.”

Peppers also expressed gratitude and reverence for his former head coach when asked how he felt about Bill Belichick no longer being in the league.

“At the end of the day, it’s a business. You know, I’m thankful for Bill. That’s a guy I had a lot of admiration and respect for. He gave me a chance, coming off an ACL when really no one else did. So I will always be forever indebted to Bill. But at the end of the day, it’s a business.”

While Peppers was clearly thankful for his time under Belichick, he shied away from comparisons and reiterated his excitement for this new era.

“Mayo is a great, great coach, and so is Bill. And I don’t like to make comparisons, because that’s the thief of joy. But what [Bill] did worked. It was a dynasty here. Like all things, change is good. So I’m excited to see what Mayo and his guys can do, go out there and play my ass off for him.”

The Patriots’ defensive staff largely remained intact, but they formally announced a defensive coordinator for the first time in years after promoting former defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington. He’s had a hand in several impressive campaigns for Patriots defenders, including Matthew Judon’s pair of Pro Bowl nods, Josh Uche’s hyper-efficient 2022 season, and Christian Barmore and Anfernee Jennings’ 2023 breakouts.

While Covington may have spent most of his coaching career working in the trenches, Peppers made it a point to mention his thorough knowledge of and impact on New England’s defense in recent seasons.

“[DeMarcus Covington] had a huge role on defense last year. Everything, you can kind of see how it played out already. But I think it’s tremendous. He’s a knowledgeable guy, knows the defense inside and out. … He was very instrumental to my time here. So I’m happy he got the chance. I’m happy I get to play for him and keep building on this thing.”

Taylor Kyles

Taylor Kyles is the lead NFL Analyst for CLNS Media covering players, schemes, and tendencies through a New England Patriots-centric lens.

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