It’s Patriots Day in the great state of Massachusetts!
Boston Marathon runners prepare their minds and bodies for the grueling 26.2-mile toll.
Red Sox players and fans prepare for the traditional but unique first pitch of the late morning holiday at Fenway Park.
And Celtics Nation sleep through the Easter Day celebration that accompanied Jayson Tatum’s layup to take a 1-0 playoff series lead against the Nets and their wretched superstar Kyrie Irving.
Ironically, aside from the team that kicked off its voluntary practice program during the offseason at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots are the least successful team on this Patriots day.
Of course, in some ways, the Patriots are still at the forefront of the Boston sports world. After all, New England is only 10 days away from the 2022 NFL Draft, another crucial opportunity to continue its climb to the top of the NFL mountain.
In light of the holiday commemorating the events that opened the Revolutionary War and days after Matt Groh held his first pre-draft press conference since his promotion to director of player personnel for New England, we started thinking about the hierarchy of the Patriots organization. As such, here’s a springtime look at the five most important people in New England’s power structure, with an interesting name that will likely bother at least a few outsiders.
1 – The Kraft family: Robert Kraft has combined his passion as a Patriots season ticket holder and his business acumen into the perfect combination of New England ownership. The team was immediately better off the day Kraft took over and built an unprecedented modern NFL dynasty. As the team patriarch ages, his son Jonathan Kraft has taken on an important leadership role. The management of the Patriots by the Kraft family should remain solid.
2 – Bill Belichick: When Robert Kraft made the polarizing decision to hire Belichick in 2000, it was clearly a crossroads for the team and the former Browns head coach. It was also the start of something really special, something we may never see again in any sport. Kraft, Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have created a triumvirate that has achieved two decades of incredible success. Belichick, overseeing both the personnel department and coaching, turned almost everything football into a success. Brady may be gone, but Belichick remains Foxborough’s central voice and leader. Heck without a coordinator on offense or defense, Belichick may be doing more than ever.
3 – Matt Patricia: This is where the ranking gets interesting.
Patricia is the former New England defensive coordinator and failed Lions head coach who returned to the organization a year ago as a senior football advisor. What he appears to be Belichick’s right-hand man, both coaching and staffing. Patricia would be the offensive line coach this year, a position he hasn’t participated in since 2005. Groh noted that Patricia has played a key role in the personnel department this offseason. Like Belichick, Patricia seems to have his hands in every aspect of the Patriots, suggesting he could be well on his way to replacing his 70-year-old boss and longtime mentor at some point down the road. Whether or not that’s true, Patricia’s multifaceted important role right now is just what it is, whether fans like it or not.
4 – MacJones: In terms of on-field potential, second-year quarterback Jones is the present and the future of the Patriots. As trite as it sounds, the franchise QB is the most important position in all of sports, let alone a singular organization. If Jones develops into an elite mainstay, it will stabilize everything else at Foxborough. If he doesn’t grow and rise to the challenge of becoming a true foundational piece, everyone else on this list will find their jobs become much more difficult.
5 – Matt Groh: A year ago, Groh was part of a supposedly more collaborative effort that led to an impressive offseason in terms of free agency and the draft that earned Belichick executive of the year status. Now, with Dave Zeigler having moved to Las Vegas with Josh McDaniels, Groh is rising to the top of the Patriots personnel department. He made it clear that Belichick is still New England’s general manager, but Groh will receive some blame or credit depending on how this year’s draft plays out. Fair or not, that’s the reality of his key new role in the power structure at Gillette Stadium. And the New England roster certainly needs another solid draft to try to inject youthful speed and talent into a roster with plenty of holes to fill. Groh is now responsible for assisting Belichick in this important process, although the collaboration continues.