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The "Patriot Way," as it has been deemed, worked really well for a really long time, until it didn't. Head coach Bill Belichick helped lead the team to unprecedented success in the 24 seasons as a head coach, with six Super Bowl wins, nine Super Bowl appearances and 17 divisional titles -- utter domination for 20 years. 

Things took a turn after quarterback Tom Brady left, with the struggles in the last few years ultimately leading to the Patriots and Belichick parting ways. Last year the team went a disappointing 4-13, missing the playoffs for the second straight year. The Patriots are in a new era for the first time in over two decades, with Jerod Mayo as their new head coach. 

How different this new phase in New England will be has yet to be seen, but according to director of scouting Eliot Wolf, it will be a significant change. While speaking at his media session at the NFL's Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Wolf said the team will have "less of a hard-ass vibe."

"It's easy to say the culture has changed, but there's no players here right now, so we'll see if the culture has changed," he said.

A day later, new Patriots head coach seemed to at least partially walk back Wolf's comment, praising Belichick for his work over the years. "Bill (Belichick) did a great job for a long period of time," Mayo said during his own combine media availability. "I don't want you guys to take this, just because we're changing, as shots toward the previous regime. In saying that, we will do it differently, and it'll feel different. And at the end of the day, we would like to replicate the success that the prior regime had."

It is not a far reach to say Wolf's comment was a dig at Belichick, who ran a very tight ship. "The Hoodie" was known for being one of the toughest coaches in the league, cracking down hard on players who did not follow the team's expectations. One way to describe his head-coaching style would certainly be "hard-ass."

Belichick never gave too much away to the media, whether it was saying he's "onto Cincinnati" rather than answer questions about Brady, not revealing whether Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe would be the starting quarterback, and the public never really knowing the reason why Malcolm Butler did not play in the Super Bowl, to name a few. Players were taught to keep quiet on most everything regarding the team, not wanting to give opponents bulletin board material. Even the most vocal of players, like Randy Moss, had a shift in their demeanor, when playing for Belichick.

It was not always a negative thing, as it brought Lombardi trophies to the city, but it is clear Wolf is ready to put that way of football in the past. While some believe Belichick's old-school outlook is the way to go; others criticize the often unapproachable way he presented himself.

According to Wolf, things will be changing at 1 Patriots Place. Wolf continued to explain what he anticipates going forward, explaining the level of communication he is hoping for from his players.

"I think it's about people and developing people, it's about doing the right thing, being honest and open, making people comfortable enough if there's an issue to say something."

There were reports following the regular season that communication between the quarterbacks was, for lack of a better term, a mess. Backup-turned-starter Bailey Zappe reportedly watched film in the wide receivers room to avoid the quarterback room. Starter-turned-backup-turned-third-QB Jones was not happy with how his coach handled the rotating starter, reportedly not finding out he was the emergency quarterback for the season finale until close to game time. 

The comment about wanting the players to be able to discuss any issues they have could be a reference to the Jones situation in 2023 that was described as "toxic."

We have already seen the differences between Mayo and his predecessor in the short time the former linebackers coach has held his new position. Mayo is a lot more open about the team's plans and has a lighter demeanor when speaking with the media.

Wolf complimented the first-year head coach, saying, "We have leadership with Jerod Mayo that is going to be tremendous. He is just an unbelievable leader and developer of people, and I think that as we move forward with the new offense and defense, it's gonna be pretty special and exciting here."

"This is a new program and we're heading in the right direction. It's a new era," Wolf explained.

The changes will likely continue at Gillette Stadium, with the team not expected to pick up Jones' fifth-year option.