One of the things being discussed this Monday morning is the fact that this Patriots team doesn’t seem to have the fire or killer instinct that fans in New England are accustomed to seeing.

Good teams close out their opponents in the 4th Quarter.  Good teams put their foot on the throats of their opponents and know how to finish.  This team right now doesn’t seem to be able to do that, and it’s definitely a problem.

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston discusses that very topic this morning, pointing out that even quarterback Tom Brady has struggled during their five road losses and they’ll need to fight harder in their final four games if they hope to compete in the postseason.

One interesting stat from Sunday’s game was the fact that Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne had a lot of success on 3rd down against the Patriots, which was frustrating to watch.  He was 11-of-15 for 161 yards along with 2 touchdown passes, and after yesterday’s performance he has the Dolphins feeling pretty confident, and even has them saying that we’re witnessing the “fall of an empire” here in New England

I would have to believe that we’re seeing a team that right now is definitely at a crossroads, and after seeing the reaction by Brady and Wes Welker after Sunday’s game it looks like we may need to see more veteran leadership with the younger players.  These final four games are going to be critical, with the Panthers, Bills, Jaguars, and Texans left on the schedule.  Two of those games (Bills & Texans) are on the road – which as we know has been a cause for concern since the team is 0-5 when playing in front of opposing crowds this year. 

Should they make the playoffs the odds are pretty good that they’ll have to find a way to win on the road, which is what championship teams generally do very well.  So far we haven’t seen this team be able to do that yet, and we’ll have to see in the coming weeks if this team is ready to take the next step – or if they’ll be content with watching someone else play in February.

Welker told reporters when asked if Sunday’s loss was one of the more frustrating ones this season that, “None of them are good, but to have the opportunities we had and not finish is pretty disappointing.”

“We’ve always been a team that has been able to overcome situations, and we haven’t been able to do that. A lot of us need to look in the mirror.”

Hopefully each of them spend this week doing just that.