Before he owned the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft was a Patriots fan. And like many fans, he’s been unhappy with the team’s lack of recent postseason success.
Speaking with reporters Tuesday at the NFL Annual Meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., Kraft said watching his team go three straight seasons without a playoff win “bothers” him.
“I’m a Patriot fan big-time first,” Kraft said, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss, “and more than anything, it bothers me that we haven’t been able to win a playoff game in the last three years.”
The Patriots have not won in the playoffs since defeating the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII to close out the 2018 season. Since then, they’ve lost twice in the wild-card round (in Tom Brady’s final Patriots game and in Mac Jones’ postseason debut) and missed the playoffs once.
New England went 10-7 last season but was blown out by the division rival Buffalo Bills in the opening round of the playoffs. That would be a respectable season for many NFL franchises — and was a definite step forward after a sub-.500 campaign in 2020 — but standards are higher for a Patriots team that’s won six Super Bowls and played in three more since 2001.
Kraft is optimistic, though.
After he publicly criticized his team’s lackluster drafting record last spring, the Patriots landed what appears to be their best draft class in years, headlined by Jones, defensive tackle Christian Barmore and running back Rhamondre Stevenson. Edge rusher Ronnie Perkins and linebacker Cameron McGrone also could have roles as NFL sophomores after taking rookie redshirts.
Kraft is hoping for a similar haul this year to boost a roster that still relied heavily on veteran imports in 2021.
“I’m happy that I think we had a great draft last year,” Kraft told reporters. “That made up for what happened the previous four years or so, and I look forward to hopefully having a great draft this year. That’s the only way you can build your team for the long term and consistently that you have a chance of winning is having a good draft.”
So far this offseason, the Patriots have taken a slow, methodical approach to team-building while a number of their AFC opponents have spent wildly in free agency and the trade market. But Kraft said he’s not concerned about that disparity. Even in a much-improved conference, he believes New England can regain its contender status “as soon as this year.”