‘I sort of like that’: Robert Kraft embraces low expectations, shares optimism for Patriots in 2023


“I think there’s a great chemistry. This is a young team, too.”

Robert Kraft is hopeful for the Patriots entering the 2023 season. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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The Patriots are in a rare spot in Robert Kraft’s 30-year tenure as they enter the 2023 season.

New England is projected and is the odds-on favorite to finish in last place in the AFC East in the new season. It also has its worst odds to win the Super Bowl since Bill Belichick became its head coach in 2000, further cementing its underdog status.

While Kraft has certainly enjoyed a good deal of success during his time as the Patriots’ owner, he’s OK with the label some have placed upon his team entering the 2023 campaign. He’s also optimistic that the Patriots will prove them wrong.

“I sort of like that people are picking us to come in fourth in the division,” Kraft told reporters Thursday at a ceremony unveiling the completed renovations to Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots are coming off their second losing season in the three years since Tom Brady left the organization, going 8-9 in 2022 to miss the playoffs. But they haven’t finished in last place in the AFC East since 2000.

It seems like a real possibility that could change this season though. They finished behind the Bills and Dolphins in the AFC East last season with both teams expected to contend for the playoffs again. In addition, the Jets acquired four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers to fix their quarterback woes as they finished just one game behind the Patriots with one of the league’s top defenses.

Still, Kraft remains focused on his team and optimistic about the group. He’s praised Mac Jones multiple times over the offseason and called the re-hiring of Bill O’Brien to be the team’s offensive coordinator an “excellent choice” several months ago.

He reiterated that optimism on Thursday.

“I think there’s a great chemistry,” Kraft said. “This is a young team, too. This might be one of the youngest teams, I think. Coach [Bill Belichick] has done a good job overall. I think having Bill O’Brien come here and work with Mac — they seem to have great chemistry. I’m actually excited about the team.”

Kraft’s optimism will get just about as hard of a test as possible in Week 1 when the Patriots host the Eagles, sitting as four-point underdogs for Sunday’s game as of Friday.

“We’re playing the team that came within three points, right at the end, of winning the Super Bowl,” Kraft said of the Patriots’ Week 1 opponent. “Their defensive line is outstanding, their whole team. We have our hands full. Fingers crossed.”

Even though Kraft knows a tough test lies ahead for the Patriots this season, that is changing his expectations. He expressed in March that it’s “very important” that the Patriots make it back to the playoffs this season.

With Brady back at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, those expectations haven’t changed as Kraft hopes to relive just a taste of those glory days.

“In the end, we want to win,” Kraft said.