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Can Bill Belichick survive another non-playoff season? Robert Kraft doesn’t directly answer the question

Mike Florio and Chris Simms reflect back on Dont’a Hightower's nine years in the NFL, where the LB had a tremendous career with the Patriots.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said plenty of interesting things during a press conference in Arizona on Monday. What he didn’t say was perhaps even more interesting.

Consider this question: “You guys have posted a losing record two of the last three seasons . . . if that happens again, could Bill [Belichick’s] job be in jeopardy, or is he here to break Don Shula’s all-time wins record and beyond?”

Kraft paused for a second or two before responding.

“Look, I’d like him to break Don Shula’s record, but I’m not looking for any our players to get great stats,” Kraft said. “We’re about winning, and doing whatever we can to win. And that’s what our focus is now. And I -- it’s very important to me that we make the playoffs, and that’s what I hope happens next year.”

Obviously, the stat in question when it comes to Belichick chasing Shula’s record is wins. Arguably implicit in the response is the notion that Belichick needs to have enough wins this year in order to have a chance to compile even more wins in 2024.

Belichick needs 30 regular-season wins to catch Shula.

The Patriots may have had more wins last year, if Belichick hadn’t made former defensive coach Matt Patricia the team’s offensive coordinator. Kraft was blunt with his opinion that it was not a good idea.

“I think he got put in a difficult position,” Kraft said. “And I think it was sort of an experiment. And he worked very hard at it. And in retrospect, I don’t think it was the right thing. And I feel bad for him, because he’s such a hard worker. He got put in a difficult position.

The fact that responsibility for the experiment flows directly to Belichick quite possibly increases the pressure on Belichick to turn it around.

Yes, six Super Bowl titles mean something. But they don’t buy an indefinite run of mediocrity. At some point, the past is the past and the present is murky and the future carries insufficient promise. That’s when changes get made.