By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
September 26, 2006

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski skip OTA
No Brady or Gronk, but plenty of storylines at Patriots OTAs
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski not at the start of the team's OTA's today
NFL notes: Don't be surprised if Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers rise up for Patriots
New Patriots DL Danny Shelton preps to hit the hill

There may be no worse feeling for a fan.

It's the realization that your team just isn't very good and stands a good chance of not even making the playoffs. The rest of the season becomes a washout.

While one game should not turn the average Patriots looking for the nearest 2007 NFL Draft Guide, last Sunday night's 17-7 loss at home has raised the Patriot Nation threat level to code orange. When was the last time you felt there was a pretty good chance that the Pats were going to get throttled in their next game? Go ahead, I'll wait.

Still waiting. It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm afraid you won't have to wait any longer.

After seeing the way the Bengals thrashed the defending Super Bowl champs on their home turf, it's hard to imagine a scenario where the Cincinnati receivers won't be turning the game into a track meet or just how Tom Brady is going to move the ball down the field. And by the way, just how confident are you in the kicking game these days?

Everybody's got an opinion on just why this 2006 Patriots team looks so anemic. We could go with popular scenarios like the Deion Branch fiasco, an aging defensive core, or a front-office arrogance when it comes to replacing personnel. Take your pick. They're all defendable.

Like you, I'm upset. I'm angry that I pay over $750 for a season ticket plus countless amounts for merchandise with the thought that a good portion of my money will be put back onto the field to generate the best possible product. Unless there is some ingenious plan that I don't see, right now the Krafts are sitting on $10 million in cap space while Tom Brady holds the ball for six or seven seconds looking for anyone to get open. Keep in mind Tom Brady put the team first and took a hometown discount a few years ago in order to keep the team strong. No wonder Tom Brady's body language looks so awful.

Ownership and management owes Patriot Nation an explanation. Why is this $10 million not being used up when the huge multi-million dollar entertainment and retail development around Gillette Stadium and this Chinese exhibition game fiasco are dominating the team's image? The franchise is fortunate enough to have the game's best quarterback but chose not to surround him with a decent receiving corps. In seasons past, the team would have had a backup plan B and C for the Branch and Givens departures. Not this year. Until further notice, what you see is what you get.

Is all hope lost for the 2006 Patriots? Of course not.

This team has historically responded well when their proverbial back is against the wall as it is this Sunday against the Bengals. Despite their early season woes, they are still -on paper anyway - better than at least half of the teams in the NFL. And do I trust Bill Belichick and his staff to coach up the personnel that they have to milk every last drip of potential out of this squad as the season wears on? Absolutely.

For a lot of NFL fans, that would be good enough. Go ahead and ask a Detroit Lions fan if you don't believe me. Unfortunately, here in New England we have become accustomed to a high-brow lifestyle where double digit win totals aren't hoped for but rather expected. It's time to trade in the SUV for a good used Honda Accord. "Forget Acapulco, kids. We're going to Maine this winter.”

That's not to say that an Accord and Maine aren't decent things. They are once you get used to them. As an aside, I will not be tolerating hate mail saying that I am not a true fan for questioning the team's decisions. Blind faith is no virtue. There are few people on this planet who have sat through more crummy weather over the last twenty years watching the Patriots in Foxboro than I have. I trust this counts for something.

But take a cue from your team's financial management plan and cut back on your expectations for this season. If you do, you may be pleasantly surprised when they go 10-6 or 11-5 like I still think they will.

Idle Zinger thoughts while wondering whose bright idea it was to put those "composting" toilets in the I-95 "Welcome to Massachusetts" rest area just over the border from New Hampshire:

Frankly, the Red Sox collapse has freed up an extraordinary amount of time in my life to pursue matters like chasing down Elmo-themed merchandise for my little ones, trying to fix my slice off the tee or discovering that Swedish Fish now come in different colors.

Have you noticed the over use of the red "!" on e-mails in your work environment? It has been my experience that this is the modern-day office equivalent of crying wolf.

One guy that I was all wrong about was New Orleans wide receiver Joe Horn. I'd wear his jersey.

Overheard at our tailgate Sunday night: "Geez, when was the last time you came to a game with us?” "It was last season. You remember. The game where I had to borrow your father's pants.”

Explanation: The "pants” were an extra pair of foul weather gear and my dad did not have to sit through the game pantless.