The New England Patriots are at a historic crossroads. They can either accept their current sub-mediocrity (now 2-10) or make the necessary changes to turn things around. The key call this offseason has to be made by owner Robert Kraft. As former President Harry Truman once said, "The buck stops here," or in this case, there.
Lots of things are on the New England Patriots' plate this offseason.
First up, the offense is abysmal. The defense could use some depth additions, but it's on offense the team needs a total revamp. Rumors swirl about the status of Head Coach Bill Belichick and Kraft has heard them for certain. He can't be happy with the direction of his former dynastic franchise. Change is due, and he knows it.
Questions will continue to be raised and need to be answered this offseason. There are major player issues, especially at quarterback and other offensive positions. There are rumors about who will be coaching (not much of an issue here) and, most importantly, who will be the man running the team's personnel operation in 2024.
The personnel operation's leader is the key question that Robert Kraft and he alone must answer. It's a sticky situation with Bill Belichick having been charged with not only being the Head Coach but also running the personnel operation for two decades plus. Doing one job is difficult enough (unless you have Tom Brady on hand to make up for your blunders), but doing both is daunting for anyone in the 2020's National Football League.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has to be proactive and make the right call on personnel
First, the issue of Belichick as Head Coach isn't the most important. Whoever coaches this team as currently constituted would flop. The issue is personnel. And that's where it gets dicey for Kraft. Belichick holds both positions, and whatever opinions are on his coaching ability, it's not the central issue. The key issue is who secures the players. In 2024 and beyond, it shouldn't be Bill Belichick.
Kraft needs to step in, step up, and be a responsible owner. He's publically complained, and rightly so about the team's poor drafting, which seems to be getting worse. He's also seen high-priced free agents flop all over the place. It's not a question of if but when Kraft needs to make this compulsory move.
All the contractual stuff between the team and Belichick complicates things. It seems highly unlikely Belichick will cede his ability to call the shots on personnel. His ego probably won't allow that. In light of that, Kraft may have to cut ties entirely if Belichick is intransigent. Getting compensation for the long-time coach/GM would be nice, but it shouldn't be a deal-breaker.
The personnel leadership change has to be made, and it has to be made right after the season ends. Forget any thoughts of Bill Belichick going anywhere before then. He deserves to finish even the worst season in his career and, frankly, all the rest of his coaching career here in New England. He's earned that consideration. But if he can't allow someone else to take on the burden of personnel, then the break will likely be total.
Will New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft do the right thing?
Mr. Kraft is on the proverbial hot seat. He knows, as does everyone else, that the personnel operation has been a disaster. The Great Safety Valve, Tom Brady, who could make even lousy players look good, was broomed. Kraft's team is a laughingstock and needs a massive overhaul to get things headed in the right direction.
What Robert Kraft decides will set the tone for the future of the New England Patriots. Stay the course with Belichick and company running personnel, and expect more of the same last-place performances going forward. It's broken, and it's time to fix it.
It's not an easy decision for Robert Kraft. Belichick has overseen the six-time Super Bowl-winning franchise for almost a quarter century. Decide as you will just how consequential his contribution was as opposed to the best Patriot, quarterback, and player in history. Right now, it's irrelevant. The current operation isn't working and needs a dramatic change.
Who the person who should replace Belichick as General Manager is subject to discussion. Louis Riddick of ESPN seems a great option if he's willing. That notwithstanding, only one thing makes perfect sense: go outside the organization and get a fresh perspective. The insular nature of the Patriot's personnel operation and coaching has been detrimental to the team for years. It's not working.
So that's the biggest issue facing owner Robert Kraft this offseason, the most important for the team since 2020 after Brady left. Retaining the status quo is not a realistic option. Make a break, at least in the personnel operation, keep Belichick as a coach if he's willing, and head into the future. It is what it is: a tricky situation for the now feeble New England Patriots franchise.
The reality is that it's not going to get much better without a tectonic shift in personnel management.