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For Kraft, it’s time to get uncomfortable.

We are now two full days past the NFL’s Black Monday beheadings. A day each year, where the most obvious of the lost coaching jobs are announced.

Head of all Things Football in New England for the last 24 years, Bill Belichick has earned the right to not be associated with those dismissed just mere hours after the 2023 season ended. All due respect to Arthur Smith and Ron Rivera.

Though, while his fate and the future fate of the New England Patriots football operation hangs in the balance, for the future health of this now, unhealthy organization, Kraft must get comfortable with a new feeling and a new action.

It’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  

As it has become clearer and clearer over the last two plus seasons, the Patriots desperately need a fresh perspective to their team building practices. All of which has been overseen by and directed by Bill Belichick. As the season progressed, longtime Patriots staffer and former standout player, Jerod Mayo’s name has been mentioned repeatedly as a likely successor to his career mentor. Years before that, former Offensive Coordinator, Josh McDaniels was tapped in a similar way.

Now, there’s both an opportunity for and a comforting cry for the newly available Mike Vrabel to take over the reins. Another familiar and comfortable organizational solution of sorts…

The problem is that the time for comfort within the walls of One Patriot Place has long since passed. The concept of organizational comfort with successful sustainability left during the winter of 2019/2020. The results both on the field and when comparing the talent on the Patriots roster versus its counterparts across the league prove it and it’s simply not close.

Had the last four plus years of Patriots football, under Bill Belichick’s leadership merited an inside-the-organization succession plan, then either of those choices, Mayo, McDaniels or someone once tied to the organization like Brian Flores, would all be reasonable and justified solutions. The reality is, however, that this team both on field and with its ongoing subpar team building strategies merits no such succession plan.

The Patriots are in desperate need of outside eyes, outside perspective, and outside ideas.

Promoting Jerod Mayo, or bringing back Josh McDaniels to once again, oversee a league worst offense are not healthy long-term solutions. Just look at the declining state of the entire football operation the last five years. Their very real and steep decline in all facets of the football operation should serve as all the evidence you will ever need to see.

This is not business as usual and Kraft must not act like it is.

Belichick has run this organization as if it’s business as usual and has done so during very unusual circumstances, i.e. without Tom Brady leading his team on the field and in the locker room. The entire Belichick approach to the team build has been an abject failure since Tom Brady was sadly positioned to leave the organization.

The flaws of the past, however, must not cloud what needs to be done right now. Fear of being the owner that ‘lost’ both the greatest quarterback and coach in the sport’s history, cannot dictate the next action. Holding onto the glory of the past and the pieces that contributed to that success will not repair this engine. This isn’t a wound that needs a band-aid solution, or a car that needs just ‘little touch up and a little paint’ as The Boss once famously crooned.

The Patriots body is in intensive care and requires the best that the medical industry has to offer. This Patriots vehicle needs to go to the graveyard and get replaced. It’s a lemon.

So, here’s my one ask of Robert Kraft. Before you simply hit the default setting and look inward to all available roads tied to the ‘Patriots Way’, go someplace you haven’t been before.

Travel somewhere new. Talk to winning potential candidates like 2023/2024 NCAA Champion Jim Harbaugh. Talk to someone affiliated with recent NFL success that maybe worked under the Andy Reid tree. Have conversations with coaches and personnel types that are winning right now using more innovative offensive techniques in the NFL and in college. Don’t just lean on your default setting of organizational comfort. Don’t do the easy thing. Do your due diligence and explore what is fully available to you in the modern world of football.

Had the success of ‘The Patriots Way’ continued to enjoy success the last five years, then a comfortable, sustainable, and familiar succession plan would make total sense. It didn’t though, so the comfortable solution won’t be the right path, not now.

Meet what this moment requires and do your due diligence Mr. Kraft. If after that, the best road proves to be the familiar path, then so be it.

Perhaps Mayo, Vrabel, Flores, McDaniels or guys like Nick Caserio or Dave Ziegler to run personnel become the best solution after all. You won’t know that however unless you meet with and talk with candidates at both levels (Head Coach & GM) with the requisite outside eyes.

Change is hard, no doubt about that but that’s what this moment calls for. Time to be comfortable being uncomfortable in the Executive Offices of One Patriots Place.

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