Robert Kraft feels bad for Matt Patricia after failed offensive experiment under Bill Belichick
BOSTON -- Bill Belichick's decision to utilize Matt Patricia as his top offensive coach last season never made a lick of sense. A year later, it still doesn't make any sense that it happened. It is, at least, over.
The hiring of Bill O'Brien as offensive coordinator and Adrian Klemm as offensive line coach means that both of Patricia's primary duties from last season have been refilled. Now, Belichick -- who staked his own reputation on Patricia's ability as an offensive play-caller, saying "if it doesn't go well, blame me" on multiple occasions -- isn't even sure if Patricia will have any role on his staff.
"I'm not sure," was Belichick's reply on Monday when asked if Patricia will still work for the New England Patriots in 2023.
Going from "having the legendary head coach's trust" to "potentially out of work" is quite the fall for Patricia, whose background as a defensive coordinator did not qualify him or prepare him to run an NFL offense in 2022. It was a position where he was never going to thrive, yet Belichick insisted that it was the right decision for his football team through the spring, through the summer, through the fall, and into the winter.
It didn't look good to anyone, and that includes owner Robert Kraft. He also spoke to reporters on Monday, and he had a bit more to say on Patricia.
"He's a very good guy, very smart, an engineer, works hard. And I think he got put in a difficult position, and I think it was sort of an experiment," Kraft said in Arizona. "And he worked very hard at it. And in retrospect, I don't think it was the right thing. And I feel bad for him, because he's such a hard worker. He got put in a difficult position."
Kraft reiterated a point he's made several times before, in that his strategy in business is to let smart, qualified people lead and make decisions. In this case, Kraft said he was "in no position" to know ahead of time whether Patricia would have worked as an offensive play-caller.
That's ... slightly inaccurate, as everyone in football had serious doubts about Patricia's potential in an offensive role. One report from the combine last March indicated that many people around the league were "flabbergasted" and had "eyebrows raised" at the thought of Patricia coaching offense.
Kraft, obviously, does not want to meddle in Belichick's decision unless it's absolutely necessary. And despite likely harboring some doubts about this particular setup, Kraft let it happen.
Of course, since then, Kraft has made it clear that changes were going to be made. From the press release announcing the intention to retain Jerod Mayo, to the aforementioned hirings of O'Brien and Klemm, to the letter to season ticket holders in which the statement was made clear that things were going to change immediately, the owner was not going to even give Belichick the option of making another decision that cost New England another season.
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