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If Belichick is out, then what? Or who?

Bill Belichick has been one of the best coaches in the NFL this century, and debatably since football was invented. While it's undebatable is that he has made some of the best coaching decisions in the history of the game, in recent years the Patriots' "mad scientist" has seen some mediocre seasonal outcomes. Likewise, he's made some questionable personnel and assistant coaching decisions. There's a myriad of proposed excuses, from the loss of Tom Brady to Bill just flat-out "losing it" with old age. Some have even suggested Bill should be canned because of his marginal win-loss outcomes. The case for firing Bill, however, is not really what this debate is about.

The real question is this: If Bill Belichick gets the pink slip.... then what?

It's fairly easy to point to Belichick's shortcomings over the past few season, whether it's drafting N'Keal Harry, Dalton Keene, Devin Asiasi... (you get the point), or his failure to develop his assistant coaching staff. In addition to his personnel blemishes, his team has seen only one playoff appearance since Tom Brady's departure. Needless to say, it's understandable why the casual fan might be clamoring for other head coaching options.

But it gets fuzzier when looking at the other "head coaching" options. There are veteran coaches out there in Rex Ryan, Jon Gruden, and even Eric Mangini (sarcasm), but -- let's be honest -- these names, and the others in the same category, don't pass the red-face test as great candidates. If the Pats want to see long-term success, a coaching retread is unlikely to be the definitive solution.

That being said, there is an obvious internal answer to the head coaching void left by Belichick's hypothetical leave. If Belichick were to depart, Jerod Mayo would be the best candidate for the Patriots.

The Pats should ABSOLUTELY hang on to Bill AS LONG AS THEY CAN, but in the event they cut ties, a great case can be made for Mayo in New England:

1) He was a borderline GREAT player in the NFL and understands what it takes to win.

2) He commands respect from the players as a defensive coordinator/coach and former player.

3) The Patriots organization didn't want to let him go to another team... that means something, right?

4) Perhaps most importantly, he understands the culture behind New England and the Patriots. He understands what it means to have a winning culture.

This isn't to say Mayo doesn't have deficiencies on his resume, because he does. On the flip side, he's rife with potential for leading the Pats to success after Belichick leaves. If there's one current coach we should invest in making the Pats perennially competitive, it's Jerod Mayo.

So there you have it. Mayo's next in succession.... or is he? Support or shred in the comments.

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