Where did Robert Kraft say about Bill Belichick’s future in New England?
“We want to win and do everything we can to win. That’s what we’re focused on now.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft addressed reporters at the NFL League’s annual meeting in Phoenix on Monday, addressing topics including the future of Bill Belichick, Mac Jones as QB1, the potential for Jerod Mayo’s trainer, and more.
Beyond Kraft’s text conversations with Meek Mill on Lamar Jackson, here are some additional highlights from Monday’s presser.
Chasing all-time coaching win record won’t guarantee Belichick’s future in New England.
Bill Belichick was candid when asked Monday morning why fans should be optimistic for the 2023 season.
“The last 25 years,” Belichick replied.
It’s hard to put down the resume Belichick has compiled during his reign at Foxborough.
But based on Kraft’s comments, Belichick and the rest of the organization can’t rest on their past laurels as recent results have fallen short of expectations.
New England has now posted a losing record in two of the past three seasons. The 2022 season was marked by regression across the board and Belichick’s revamped coaching staff was ill-equipped to tackle daunting new assignments.
“I’ve been very disappointed with how our season has gone,” Kraft said, via video from BostonSportsJournal.com. “I had the privilege of being a fan for decades before I bought the team. I think in the end I’m still a fan.
“My goal for our team is for us to make the playoffs. …. I thought last year we went three years without [a playoffs win], and I thought we had been able to do that. The season we finished under .500…so I thought changes needed to be made.
Belichick could be just 19 wins away from breaking Don Shula’s all-time winning record for an NFL coach. But Kraft pushed back against the idea that New England will prioritize that pursuit of the record over the next few years, especially if it leads to lackluster results in the standings.
“I would like him to break Don Shula’s record, but I’m not looking for any of our players to have great stats,” Kraft said of Belichick. “We want to win and do everything we can to win. This is what we are focusing on now. It’s very important to me that we make the playoffs. This is what I hope to happen next year.
Still, even though the later years of the post-Brady era weren’t necessarily good for the Patriots, Kraft still gave his longtime head coach his stamp of approval when it came to his personal decisions.
“I think Bill is exceptional at what he does and I gave him the freedom to make choices and do the things that need to be done,” Kraft said. “His intellect and knowledge of football is unparalleled from what I’ve seen. Just when you talk to him, the little things he looks at analytically.
“But in the end, it’s a business. Either you run and win, or you don’t. This is where we are. I think we are in a transition phase. I think we’ve made some changes this year that I’m personally comfortable with and I still believe in Bill.
Kraft thinks Jerod Mayo will be a ‘head coach’ in due time.
Even if Belichick remains on the sidelines at Gillette Stadium for the next few seasons, chances are the 70-year-old coach is unlikely to be rooted in his current role many years later.
And when it comes time for the Patriots to name a successor to Belichick, Jerod Mayo continues to look like an attractive candidate.
Kraft validated those thoughts Monday, noting that the Patriots linebacker coach will likely lead an NFL roster at some point in the future.
“There’s no cap on his ability to be a head coach, and he will be, I’m sure,” Kraft said of Mayo. “I hope he is with us. We’ll see what happens.”
Although he lined up for various coaching interviews (including Carolina’s head coaching gig) earlier this winter, Mayo opted to stay in New England after the Patriots noted they were working on a contract extension with the former All-Pro linebacker.
Coaching turnover is an expected consequence of the development of top assistants through the NFL ranks. But it was clear the Patriots were prioritizing retraining Mayo as a key part of training for the future.
“Jerod is an individual who I think there is no limit to his ability to grow and his skill,” Kraft said. “We were privileged to have him as a player. I saw how intense he was and his leadership qualities on the pitch.
“And then I saw him leave us and go into private industry and learn the Xs and O’s of business – then come back and be a coach, and do it with us. Good coaches get hired, so I was happy that we were able to sit down with him and try to keep him here long term. I will do everything to make this happen. »
Kraft on Matt Patricia: “I feel bad for him”
When it comes to blaming Mac Jones and the Patriots’ 2022 offensive woes, Matt Patricia is a logical target.
The former defensive coordinator was named offensive coach and offensive line coach for New England last season, an experience that quickly unfolded for a toothless Patriots roster.
It was a head-scratching coaching change from Belichick that quickly fell through, with Belichick adding on Monday that he was “not sure” whether Patricia will remain with the team next season.
Still, even as Mac Jones and the Patriots offense took a step back under Patricia’s leadership, Kraft offered some sympathy for the predicament the former coach was placed in last season.
“I’m not in a position to know if entering is the right thing. He’s a really good guy,” Kraft said of Patricia. “Very smart. An engineer. Works hard. I think he was put in a difficult position and I think it was kind of an experiment. the right thing. And I feel bad for him because he’s such a hard worker. He got into a tough spot.”
Even though Patricia may be on the back foot at Foxborough, Kraft praised Jones and his ability to orchestrate a rebounding season in 2023.
“I’m a huge Mac fan,” Kraft said of the New England quarterback. “I think he came to us as a rookie. He quarterbacked his rookie season and did a really good job, I think. We made the playoffs. I think we experienced some things last year which frankly didn’t work out when it came to him, in my opinion.
Kraft added: “I think we’ve made some changes that I think put him in a good position to excel. Look, at the end Bill is in charge of my football team and decides who starts and who plays, and he’s done a really good job for – when you think about it – 24 years. I had peachy fuzz when it started.
“But I don’t know, for me, I see [Jones] as a very hardworking young man. He is in the stadium almost every day during the offseason. I think bringing in Bill O’Brien will be to his advantage. I’m very positive and hopeful for this coming year, and I’m personally a huge Mac fan.
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