It's time Patriots owner Robert Kraft treated Bill Belichick the same way Belichick treats his players.

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For years, possibly decades, the spirit of Bill Belichick guiding the New England Patriots has been unfathomable: We do what’s best for the team🇧🇷

Along with Do your work, he adopted this principle in almost every decision that defined the franchise. He defends her at technical committee meetings. He reiterates this in corporate talks. He repeats this so often at press conferences that clips of him saying some version of the ideology can be found in nearly every year of his Patriots reign.

If anyone were to question his dedication to this, one need only look inside Belichick’s list of lists throughout history – a march of attrition showing his priority of cold calculation over sentimentality or blind loyalty.

Getting Tom Brady over Drew Bledsoe? Do what’s best for the team.

Release Pro Bowl safety attorney Milloy just days before the start of the 2003 season? Do what’s best for the team.

Spend decades trading, cutting or moving away from key players who were aging or threatening to lower the salary cap? Do what’s best for the team.

The team’s future mattered. When it came to a tough business decision, many dynasty-building names didn’t: Milloy, Ty Law, Deion Branch, Asante Samuel, Richard Seymour, Randy Moss, Logan Mankins, Jamie Collins, Stephon Gilmore… and many, many more. most . In the end, long-term success or failure was never going to be staked on one man. And for decades, Belichick was right.

Then came Matt Patricia and the 2022 season. The moment when Belichick’s incorruptible doctrine of “what’s best for the team” was blindsided by his own arrogance.

Somewhere at the intersection of not having a plan for Josh McDaniels’ departure as offensive coordinator and overestimating his own ability to continually fit a square peg in a round hole, Belichick violated his credo. He failed to do what was best for the team, choosing audacity over logic and a coaching friend over a much-needed young centre-back. Prioritizing trust and familiarity over the need for list building.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft should be on the lookout. His team is approaching an offseason where it’s time for him to start treating Belichick the way Belichick has treated his players for decades. This is where the trainer’s manual should be in an owner’s mouth.

Do your work. Do what’s best for the team.

At this point, Kraft must be Belichick. Not sentimental. Calculating. Directed. No lines of credit for what has been accomplished in the past. Instead of reapplying grace in the face of Belichick’s mistake, choose strength. Achieve an inexorable mandate rather than some form of diplomacy.

It’s time for Patriots team owner Robert Kraft to use Bill Belichick’s mantra for the good of the franchise. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Bottom line: Tell Belichick that Patricia should be stripped of offensive play-calling duties and the head coach should find a tested offensive coordinator to take over the scheme and guide Mac Jones. Because what’s happening this season ranges from unacceptable to neglect.

New England’s offensive trajectory resembles what the New York Giants did to Daniel Jones – getting off to a promising start and systematically undermining his ability to develop properly as a quarterback. It’s a mistake that irreparably damaged Daniel Jones’ chance to be the team’s answer at halfback and helped send the franchise into a multi-year spiral that is only now slowing down under head coach Brian Daboll. Now, Patriots fans are looking at Mac Jones the way Giants fans looked at Daniel Jones in his second and third seasons, wondering if his early success was a mirage.

They may not be alone either. Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown was in the news this week when his Instagram account “liked” a post suggesting the franchise should seek the return of either Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo. While there’s no way of knowing whether it was Brown or someone running his account who clicked that button, the fact remains that this is unpatriotic drama bubbling up between an offensive tackle and the quarterback he’s being paid to protect. 🇧🇷 That’s not great, no matter how you process it.

That’s the kind of drama this Patricia experiment is inviting, from the flirtation with Bailey Zappe to the disjointed play to Jones having emotional outbursts over a game plan that shows the slightest bit of trust in him. None of that was an issue in 2021, when McDaniels ran the offense. The same McDaniels who walked off the field in Las Vegas on Sunday with an extremely unlikely victory that would have gone to overtime if Patricia had simply taken a knee at the end of regulation. Instead, Patricia initiated an ongoing play that opened up the possibility of a set of stupid decisions by two players who should never have been in that position in the first place.

No, that’s not entirely blaming Patricia for the Raiders’ loss. But when you analyze the game, he certainly made a lot of questionable decisions that were forgotten in the end. And the fact remains: if you didn’t have the confidence to get Jones to throw a Hail Mary to end regulation and assumed a running play would end in a simple tackle, why not just take a knee and eliminate any possibility of a mental error. ? 🇧🇷 That’s the job of an experienced play-caller, to increase the probability of success while removing as many opportunities for mistakes as possible.

Patricia did not. And in the wake of that, the Patriots lost a game that threatens to knock them out of the postseason for the second time in three years.

That kind of end result, where the Patriots are sitting at home again through the postseason, should be on Kraft’s mind. No one should forget that last March, at the NFL’s largest annual owner meetings, Kraft was keen to press Belichick to move forward. He was angered that New England had so quickly slipped off the league map as a contender following Brady’s departure. And he was upset that the Patriots hadn’t won a playoff game since Super Bowl LIII after the 2018 season.

“I think about it a lot,” Kraft said.

And that’s why he has to do something he’s resisted for decades: step into Belichick’s kitchen when it comes to coaching decisions and make it clear that Patricia has no future on the team as a playmaker. That might sound like the owner crossing the line, but the fact is, it happens all the time in the NFL at other franchises. Especially when the head coach is making ego-driven decisions that are hurting the team.

In this case with Patricia, that clearly happened. Now Kraft has to take it upon himself to take a page from Belichick and think of the team first. There’s no room for nostalgia about past glory or what was going on when Tom Brady was still in the fold. For this franchise to move forward, it has to move forward.

Treating Belichick the way he always treated his players would be a good start for the estate.

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