What’s gonna happen at THE MEETING? When the Patriots were 6-4 back in November, nobody was even wondering.
But during the team’s 2-5 post-Thanksgiving slide, pockmarked by mind-blowing mistakes, offensive ineptitude and a sometimes-raging quarterback, the importance of that question grew.
After the season, when owner Robert Kraft sat for his annual post-season debriefing with Bill Belichick, would Belichick share a plan for 2023 to get Kraft’s team back where it was? Competent. Buttoned-up. Entertaining.
Or would Belichick resist the notion that 2022 was bad at all? And if he did, would that signal an unsolvable impasse which might end with Belichick and Kraft divorcing over irreconcilable differences?
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THE MEETING, I am told, has happened. There is no impasse. The Patriots are on to 2023 with Belichick acknowledging 2022 wasn’t ideal and being amenable to changes.
Don’t expect a dog-and-pony show announcing firings or who’s coming in for an interview. Belichick isn’t going to put anyone’s head on a spike for the pleasure of the masses. But my understanding is offensive coaching reassignments are going to happen and several offensive coaches are under consideration for the Patriots' 2023 staff.
Belichick is just getting going on this. That’s one of the issues with having one person doing so many jobs. There’s a vested interest in the immediate success of the on-field product that can come at the expense of future planning.
Until Sunday at 4:15 p.m., the Patriots were a potential playoff team. And if they got in and the offense started to click? Well, maybe changes weren’t necessary after all. So, while Belichick played the role of Charlie Brown waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive in the form of productive offense, all future planning was on hold.
And now they get to it.
One important facet of the meeting: Did Belichick need persuading to change course on offense or did he go in knowing changes were necessary? My understanding is that no persuading on the part of Kraft was necessary.
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And that's important in that the "meddling owner" trope stings Kraft. Both he and Jonathan Kraft have stressed publicly that they stay out of Belichick’s way. They’ve said on the record that Belichick has earned the latitude to run the football team as he sees fit.
Kraft made sure that was clear in 2019 and 2020 when Belichick was deciding to exit the Tom Brady era. And he made sure to do that after 2017 when the mistaken notion that he forced Belichick to trade Jimmy Garoppolo was reported and still lives on.
Who comes in to fix the offense? What’s the title? When does he start? Again, presume that Belichick will slow-play any and all announcements. He’s probably not giving anyone the satisfaction of knowing a change was made.
But unless there’s a change of heart, changes are coming.