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Juju Smith-Schuster seems to take dig at Bill Belichick, says Pats locker room ‘vibes’ are ‘way better’ now


Bill Belichick had a unique approach to coaching and it certainly was not a hit with everyone. While his “Patriot Way” was effective for a while, seeing unprecedented success over two decades, the wheels began falling off once quarterback Tom Brady left.

Belichick is now out and the Patriots have a new coach in Jerod Mayo, former player and linebackers coach for the team. We have yet to see what Mayo can do to help turn this struggling squad around, but there have already been noticeable changes in how things are done.

While some players have spoken out saying Belichick’s style of coaching is one they prefer, others have alluded that the team is in a better spot now that “The Hoodie” is gone. 

Patriots wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster seemingly took a dig at his old coach, telling the media, “Wait til you see the locker room. The vibes are way better.”

The “vibes” may be good, but that won’t matter if they are independent to what is happening on the field. We will not know whether Mayo’s style will work with this group until we see them compete in September, but with so many changes, struggles are expected.

Whatever the feeling in the locker room is, it has not helped the team’s odds going into the 2024 season. The Patriots are not favored to win any games this season and have the second-worst odds to win the Super Bowl (+17500).

The Patriots finished 4-12 last season, the worst record in the AFC. Smith-Schuster did not contribute to the lackluster offense much, with 29 receptions for 260 yards and one touchdown in 11 games, seven of which were starts. Smith-Schuster did note that he was not at 100 percent last season, as he dealt with knee injuries, but now feels ready to go.

Smith-Schuster, now at full capacity according to him, also is clearly liking his working environment and will be catching passes from a different quarterback than he was last year. Drake Maye, the No. 3 overall pick, and veteran Jacoby Brissett will compete for the starting job this season and the feeling is that either would provide more consistency than the team had switching from Mac Jones to Bailey Zappe last season.

While it seems Smith-Schuster is happy with how things are going so far this offseason, another player had contasting comments on the change, saying he liked playing for Belichick. 

“We don’t got Bill cursing us out every play anymore,” Patriots defensive end Keion White said, via “I like Bill. He’s my type of coach, like a hard-ass. I like that. I respond well to things like that.”

The understanding so far is that Mayo is not trying to be Belichick Jr. and the first-year head coach is finding his own way.

“Mayo’s done a pretty good job, too. It’s all different,” White said. “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.”

Some changes include players getting assigned numbers according to their position and not having to “earn” the good numbers. There have also been reports, like Smith-Schuster said, of the locker room environment being more relaxed. 

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Author: Shanna McCarriston
May 21, 2024 | 4:31 pm

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