PALM BEACH, Fla. — Robert Kraft expressed confidence in Bill Belichick, Mac Jones, the Patriots’ ability to build through the draft, and predicted that 2022 will be a good year for the team during a breakfast chat with media Tuesday morning.
With a brilliant and glowing orange sun rising over The Breakers resort, site of the NFL’s Annual Meeting, the Patriots owner painted a bright future for his club while acknowledging it “bothers me that we haven’t been able to win a playoff game the last three seasons.”
Though the club hasn’t made a big splash in free agency, Kraft pointed to last year’s unprecedented spending spree, a strong 2021 draft class, and Belichick’s incomparable run of success, as reasons he’s bullish on 2022, his 28th year of ownership.
“I’m a big fan of Mac Jones,” said Kraft. “I see how hard he works. He wants everything to go right, and he puts in the time and energy, and his personality as a team guy.
“So, we have a chance, because without a good coach and a good quarterback, no matter how good the other players are, I don’t think you can win consistently. And hopefully, I believe, we have both, an outstanding coach and a good young prospect at quarterback.”
Kraft was particularly impressed by how Jones went about his business as a rookie.
“Well first of all, I’m amazed. He’s such a good person and humble,” said Kraft. “But I come in sometimes on the weekend or early, he’s there working out, watching film, just doing things that I wouldn’t believe someone of his background would have that kind of commitment, given his past. The guys in the locker room really like him, all the guys.”
Kraft believes more of Jones’s personality will emerge as he continues to develop into a leader on the club.
“I actually believe he has a little more edge than we’ve seen, but he’s been respectful of coming in as a rookie,” Kraft said. “So I’m very high on him. And I think the staff did a great job drafting him and we’re lucky to have him for our future. This will be a good year.”
Kraft, 80, touched on a number of other subjects.
▪ On having no officially named offensive and defensive coordinators:
“I think Bill has a unique way of doing things. It’s worked out pretty well up to now. So, I know what I don’t know, and I try to stay out of the way of things I don’t know.
“It doesn’t sometimes look straight in line to our fans or to myself, but I’m results-oriented.”
▪ On when the Patriots will be title contenders:
“I’d expect it to happen as soon as this year. I think we’ve made the commitments as an organization, and I think we have a lot of talent and some wonderful young men from last year and a couple in the weeds from before. And it’s a chance for them to grow and hopefully come together and the team comes together.
“I think these young quarterbacks, the good ones in the second year, have usually grown a great deal.”
▪ On the slow start to free agency:
“I don’t think free agency is over. I know the big spending. Remember, we have a salary cap, so there’s only so much we can do in that area. I do think that we have an opportunity to [pick] people up right along the away, right down to the final cuts. That’s, to me, when free agency is over, and I’ve seen it other years.
“People get all excited with the headlines now, but in the end it’s what happens throughout the entire year.”
▪ On keeping up with the Joneses in the the AFC:
“I don’t know what proportion, but a number of top quarterbacks in the league, it looks like there’s a higher number in the AFC. But we really have to worry about our situation, take care of our business.
“We have a paper and packaging company that’s all over the world, over 120 countries. And actually it’s 50 years old this year, so I’m pretty proud of that. But I learned running that company I could only concern myself with what I could control. I can’t worry about my competition.
“Yeah, secretly we’d like them maybe to stumble, but I’ve got to focus on our business and make sure we’re doing the right thing. Then if you do that, good things happen.”
▪ On maintaining a winning culture:
“After my family, there’s nothing more important to me than the New England Patriots and winning football games. That’s my passion. So, whatever I can do, hopefully in a small way, to make that happen, I’m there.”