Kraft: '14 Pats Remind Him of '01 Team

The Pats have overcome injuries to make it back to the AFC Championship Game

By Ryan Wilson
|  Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014  |  Updated 3:16 PM EDT
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Kraft: '14 Pats Remind Him of '01 Team

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 20: New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick disputes a call during overtime against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on October 20, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Vegas might like the Broncos on Sunday (they're currently favored by 4.5 points) but Patriots owner Bob Kraft has complete confidence in coach Bill Belichick, and for good reason. Since arriving in New England in 2000, Belichick is 168-64 with three Super Bowl titles.

And what Belichick has accomplished this season -- a 12-4 record despite countless starters finding their way to injured reserve -- might be one of the best coaching efforts of his career, as far as Kraft is concerned.

"This is his 14th season with us but I really think this might be his most outstanding coaching job," Kraft told ESPN Radio, via ESPNBoston.com. "The way these guys have stepped up, 'Next man up' so to speak, has just been unbelievable.

"Of course, having [Tom] Brady at the helm -- you think about it, your quarterback touches the ball usually 70 times in the course of a game; low 70s, high 60s. So you need someone with good judgment in that position who also understands how to manage the clock, what's going on, and how to adapt. So we're lucky to have that position filled at such a high level. And I think we're lucky to have a coach that understands the game and pays attention to detail, and also adapts to whatever the situation [may be]."

And that's the thing: any coach, no matter how good he might be, will only go as far as his franchise quarterback takes him. In that regard, Belichick is lucky to have Brady. That said, Belichick was also the guy who decided to bench Drew Bledsoe for Brady a move that, in hindsight, seems like a no-brainer but was slightly more complicated at the time.

Interestingly for Kraft, the 2014 team conjures up memories of the 2001 squad that beat the "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams in the Super Bowl.

"This team we have now reminds me of our '01 team," Kraft said. "It wasn't the biggest names or collection of stars. It was a team that had a certain mental toughness and truly played together as a team. ... I think this year the sense of team and putting team first is at the highest level. We've learned it's not the teams that have the best collection of talent, but it's the teams that really come together, especially in December and January."

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