Robert Kraft didn't know how right he'd be when he spoke to NFL Media's Rich Eisen before Sunday's game in Frankfurt, his first public comments about the Patriots since their nightmarish 2023 season began.
"I hope today is a chance to reset," Kraft said. "and make this a much better year."
Call him one-for-two.
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His team's 10-6 loss to the Colts in Germany felt like the end of something, meaning there must be a refresh of sorts on the horizon.
It's not exactly where the Kraft family would like to be after head coach Bill Belichick already made it very clear he wanted his team to "start over again" after a blowout loss to the Cowboys last month. It's certainly not the desired result about three years after Belichick indicated 2020 was a year for the Patriots to reset its finances as they embarked on a post-Tom Brady rebuild.
Now, almost a full presidential term into this era of Patriots football, they're in a worse position than when they started.
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At 2-8, Kraft's team is in last place in the AFC, and their odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick (6.4 percent) are more than 21 times greater than their odds of landing a postseason berth (0.3), per Sumer Sports. They have the second-worst offense in the league (14.1 points per game), and after Sunday's dud, it looks like they're ready to move on from starting quarterback Mac Jones and the first-round investment they made in him less than three years ago.
Kraft met with Patriots players before the game this week to tell them how "critical" it was. Sunday meant more to him. He cares about the game's growth internationally. He cares about his team's brand stateside and overseas. He wanted to give an audience heavy with Patriots fans something to cheer for. He wanted to provide an exciting product. The fans got neither.
Instead, the Patriots scored six points against an Indianapolis defense that ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL in points allowed. The second half was particularly gruesome offensively.
Kraft hung his head after Jones' near-interception in the fourth quarter. That would have been his team's first touchdown of the day. That would have been his team's first successful red-zone trip in three tries. That would have infused some life into a punchless attack that was averaging a point per quarter at that stage in the not-so-Guten Tag.
Kraft was right to feel disappointed in that moment, even embarrassed. And it got worse from there.
We'll have time to dissect Jones' inexplicably-underthrown interception later in the fourth quarter that got him benched -- perhaps for the foreseeable future. We'll go over in detail the issues the team experienced in pass protection, and how its special-teams gaffes continued.
But what might irk Kraft most is that his quarterback is damaged.
Less than a year-and-a-half ago, Belichick lobbed bouquets in Jones' direction for his vast improvement from his first year to his second. Jones was coming off a season in which he finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting. He'd won 10 games.
Now he looks like he has the yips. He's a bottom-seven quarterback in interception rate, yards per attempt and passer rating. His propensity for turnover-worthy plays is actively harming his teams chances of winning, and the Patriots could very well move on for him in favor of one of two uninspiring backups: Bailey Zappe or Will Grier.
Kraft understood the Patriots wasted Jones' critical second season with an oddball coaching setup. He made it clear a coordinator with an offensive coaching background would be imported last offseason. Now, in Jones' third season, with an experienced play-caller, Kraft has somehow watched his quarterback somehow backslide.
Maybe this is who Jones was destined to be all along. Maybe Josh McDaniels expertly covered up Jones' warts in 2021. Or maybe what the world is seeing now is more the result of nurture rather than nature. Hard to know for sure given the talent in the receiver room, the shakeup along the offensive line, and the three-offensive-systems-in-three-years challenge.
To be unsure? Irksome. And it must make Kraft question whether or not the football operations setup as currently constructed -- with Belichick at the helm of it all -- should be trusted to draft and develop another potential face-of-the-franchise signal-caller.
The Colts loss… The quarterback play…The international audience… It represented a new low in a season of ever-deepening valleys.
Kraft couldn't have known how prescient he would sound when he spoke to Eisen in hopeful tones of a "reset" early Sunday. Right now a more seismic organizational reconstruction after the season -- impacting some of the most important jobs within the organization on the field and off -- seems as realistic as ever.