How Robert Kraft Feels About Patriots’ Unorthodox Coaching Staff Setup

'I think Bill has a unique way of doing things'

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March 29, 2022

Robert Kraft doesn’t know exactly what Bill Belichick is thinking with this new Patriots coaching staff. But he trusts his head coach’s judgment.

Asked Tuesday about New England’s unusual staff configuration, Kraft deferred to Belichick, saying he doesn’t meddle in such matters.

“I think Bill has a unique way of doing things,” the Patriots owner told reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “It’s worked out pretty well up to now. I know what I don’t know and I try to stay out of the way of things I don’t know.

“I think he’s pretty good, over 40 years of experience doing it. It doesn’t sometimes look straight line to our fans or myself, but I’m results-oriented.”

Belichick wouldn’t reveal specifics about his staff during his Monday news conference, but the Patriots are expected to enter the 2022 season without an official offensive or defensive coordinator.

It’s not unusual for the Patriots to operate with a de facto coordinator — they haven’t named a DC since Matt Patricia left in 2018, with Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo sharing those duties for the past three seasons — but this would be just the second time in the Belichick era that they’ve gone without an official one on both sides of the ball.

The other was in 2010, when quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien handled the offense and Patricia called defensive plays as linebackers coach. O’Brien was promoted to OC in 2011, with Patricia getting the same bump one year later.

“I’m not big on titles,” Belichick told reporters Monday in Palm Beach. “We have jobs to do. We’ll do the jobs.”

Many fans and media members advocated for an O’Brien reunion following the departure of longtime OC Josh McDaniels earlier this offseason, but a return is unlikely at this stage. Belichick said Monday he does not expect any more additions to New England’s 2022 staff.

“I think our staff is complete,” Belichick told reporters. “I wouldn’t rule anything out, but I don’t think we necessarily would hire anybody else. But we’ll evaluate every situation as it comes.”

O’Brien currently is the offensive coordinator at Alabama, working under Belichick’s longtime friend, Nick Saban.

Patricia and Joe Judge both will have major roles on New England’s offensive staff this season, though it remains unclear on which position each will focus and whether either will call plays.

Patricia returned to the Patriots as a senior advisor last season — Belichick called his current position “very broad” — while Judge, an ex-Patriots special teams coordinator, landed back in Foxboro, Mass., in February after a failed two-year stint as New York Giants head coach. Neither has extensive experience coaching offense, but Belichick said he’s “not really worried about that.”

“I think a good coach is a good coach,” he said, “and Matt’s a great coach. Joe’s a great coach. They’ll help us no matter what position they coach.”

Thumbnail photo via Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports Images
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