After the Patriots missed the playoffs this past season, team owner Robert Kraft sent an email to season ticket holders saying no one in the organization was “satisfied” and that they would be “making critical evaluations of all elements of our football operation as we strive to improve and return to the playoffs next year.”
Meeting with the media at the NFL owners meetings on Monday, Kraft was asked what he learned during those evaluations and what changes have been made.
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“Well, I was very disappointed the way our season went,” Kraft said. “I had the privilege of being a fan for decades before buying the team, and I think in the end I’m still a fan. My objective for our team is that we make the playoffs, because once you make the playoffs, anything can happen. But if you don’t, then your season ends in a way that doesn’t make me very happy.
“I thought last year, we’ve gone three years without it [a playoff win], and I thought we had been in a position to do it. And the season, we finished under .500, which is the first time in a long time. So I thought changes had to be made, and I think we made some moves and changes that give me, personally, some hope for the upcoming season.”
When asked about quarterback Mac Jones, Kraft went on to say that the Patriots “experimented with some things” offensively that “didn’t work,” almost certainly referring to Bill Belichick’s decision to put the offense in the hands of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. Kraft highlighted the hiring of Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator as one of the changes he liked and said he believes it will “work to [Jones’] advantage.”
Given that the Patriots have now gone four years without winning a playoff game, have missed the playoffs completely in two of the last three seasons, and tried an experiment last year that didn’t work, it seems fair to wonder whether Kraft still has complete faith in Bill Belichick.
Well, Kraft was asked exactly that on Monday. While reiterating that “you either execute and win or you don’t,” Kraft ultimately praised Belichick and said he still believes in him.
“Look, I think Bill is exceptional at what he does,” Kraft said. “I’ve given him the freedom to make the choices and do the things that need to be done. His football intellect and knowledge is unparalleled from what I’ve seen. Just when you talk to him, the small things analytically that he looks at. But in the end, this is a business. You either execute and win or you don’t. That’s where we’re at. We’re in a transition phase. We’ve made some moves this year that I personally am comfortable with, and I still believe in Bill.”