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Robert Kraft backs Bill Belichick, acknowledges Patriots are ‘in a transition phase’

Kraft met with reporters during the NFL owners meeting.

AFC Championship - Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Sitting in Palm Beach, Florida last year during the annual NFL owners meeting, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft made it known he was unhappy with the team’s three-year stretch of not winning a playoff game. What happened last year did not put an end to such streak, as New England went 8-9 and missed the playoffs all together for the second time in three years.

One year later, Kraft’s echoed a similar message at this year’s NFL Owners meeting in Arizona.

“I was very disappointed the way our season went,” Kraft said on Monday. “My objective for the team is we make the playoffs.”

Despite finishing under .500 for the second time in three years, Kraft still believes his head coach, Bill Belichick, is the right coach to get them back into the playoffs.

“I still believe in Bill,” Kraft said. “I think Bill is exceptional at what he does and 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 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. I think we’re in a transition phase.”

The soon-to-be-71-year-old Belichick will enter his 24th season as New England’s head coach and lies just 19 wins away from passing Don Shula on the all-time coaching wins list (including playoffs). Kraft was asked if Belichick’s job could be in jeopardy following another losing season, or if he’ll remain in New England long enough to break Shula’s record.

“I’d like him to break Don Shula’s record, but I’m not looking for any of our players to get great stats. We’re about winning. That’s what our focus is now,” Kraft replied.

To help turn things around, New England got right to work this offseason remodeling their coaching staff. Kraft issued a note to season ticket holders a day after the 2022 season concluded promising for “critical evaluations.” That’s what happened, as the team opened a formal search for an official offensive coordinator that resulted in hiring Bill O’Brien, who was at the top of Kraft’s list.

“We experimented with some things last year that frankly didn’t work,” Kraft said. “I thought changes had to be made, and I think we made some moves and changes that give me, personally, some hope the upcoming season.”

Time will tell how New England’s offseason changes translate to the football field, but Kraft again hopes the end result is being back in the playoffs come January.

“It’s very important to me that we make the playoffs,” he said. “That’s what I hope happens next year.”