I got the email from the boss this past Monday, and, as he sometimes does, assigns the topics of discussion we are to submit via our blogs. Sure enough, my job was to talk about "what's wrong with the Patriots". No worries, it didn't seem that difficult a scribe. Until I started to think about it. Heck, "what's right with them", I asked myself. How do you weigh the pros and cons, the good versus the bad. Possibly the ugly.
Thought about the losses of star players like Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, and of course more recently all world tight end Rob Gronkowski. The untimely loss of Pro Bowler Aaron Hernandez in the off season (story we are all aware of). Newcomers like Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins at wide out to go along with the oft injured Danny Amendola, brought in to replace the departed Wes Welker. Running Back Steven Ridley, with great talent, unable to protect the football. Lock down cornerback Aquib Talib and his nagging hip problems. At times they resembled Gillette Stadium's version of a M.A.S.H unit.
Although presently first in the AFC East with a 10-4 record, seven of their wins have been by seven points or less. We are not used to that around here! Coming out flat to start some games in Foxboro, not the "Patriot Way" that used to exist in these parts...then it came to me!
All season long we have continued to put this team on a pedestal. Expecting seamless offensive and defensive play. An elite team with no blemishes, not a blip on the model franchise radar. Able to withstand any form of adversity, and overcome all obstacles that lie in their path. That what it's been like for Patriot Nation for more than a decade. But it's not any more! Certainly not in 2013.
This seasons version of The New England Patriots are good...not great. Not like they were in the past. Tom Brady is great! Head Coach Bill Belichick is as well. The rest of the pieces are just, well, good. I referenced some of the examples in the above text, but if we dig deep, we could probably find more. They have a definite chance to get to the Super Bowl, especially in a well balanced conference, but the chances are unlikely, as far as I'm concerned. There are rare exceptions, but it's the great teams that usually take the next step, not the good ones. Not the New England Patriots.