For the second straight week, New England Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien was asked about the Patriots decision-making process on the starting quarterback position.
For the second straight week, O'Brien dropped an interesting name in his answer: Robert Kraft.
During his press conference this morning, O'Brien was asked if he had the power to sit struggling quarterback Mac Jones.
"I don't make those calls. There's a chain of command...there's Mr. Kraft at the top, then Bill Belichick, and then the assistant coaches."- Bill O'Brien
O'Brien outlines the hierarchy in Foxborough, but is careful to separate owner Robert Kraft at the top of the food chain, ahead of head coach Bill Belichick and the assistant coaches. Only a week ago, O'Brien had also brought up Kraft's name seemingly unprompted when asked if he provided input to Belichick on who should start at quarterback against the New York Giants.
The revelation by O'Brien unleashes an avalanche of questions for Patriots fans. How long has Kraft been meddling in personnel decisions? Does Kraft prefer Jones over Zappe? Who would Belichick and his coaching staff be starting if not for the owner's input? Does Kraft's influence on personnel decisions spread beyond just the quarterback room?
O'Brien has opened a can of worms by mentioning Kraft on two occasions now when discussing New England's quarterback situation. From O'Brien's comments, I would wonder if he is mentioning Kraft because he disagrees with either the principle of Kraft interfering or Kraft's final decision. His responses border on "Hey, don't look at me. My hands are clean."
The team's refusal to name a starting quarterback last week also looks different in hindsight. Were Bill Belichick and his staff forced to split reps amongst Jones and Bailey Zappe during the week because they were waiting on word from the owner's office? If so, that is also reprehensible on Kraft's part. An NFL quarterback cannot adequately prepare in a game week while splitting reps and therefore, Kraft put the team at a significant competitive disadvantage.
There has been plenty of blame to go around during this disastrous Patriots season. It might be time to add one more name to the blame pie.
More New England Patriots news and rumors: