September 22, 2008
Wise Up and Give The Patriots a Mulligan
BY: Kevin Rousseau
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Last week, the Patriots look like formidable contenders for the AFC Championship when they beat up the Jets in the Meadowlands. It was probably some of the most fun you ever had as a fan.
Then a week later, they looked Charmin soft and couldn't beat a Pop Warner if they had a playoff spot depending on it. You're ready to break up the team and trade Vince Wilfork for a draft pick so we can start to rebuild.
It's too soon to form any conclusions about the 2008 Patriots. After a bye week and two games on the road against the 49ers and the Chargers, we'll have a much better body of knowledge from which to judge this team. So until then just pipe down, be patient and worry just a tick more about the Red Sox, comprende?
There's plenty of blame to go around for the surprising 38-13 thrashing at the hands of the Dolphin and we'll slice up the blame pie in another minute of two. But before we take the pie out of the oven, I have a bone to pick with a few of you.
Just what were you thinking?
Honestly, just what was crossing your mind? Yes, I'm talking to you--the boo-bird--who was humming your tune at Gillette Stadium during the blowout.
On behalf of the rest of us, let me be one of the first ones to personally thank you for reinforcing our atrocious reputation around the country. The team wins 21 games in a row--which BTW has never been done by another team in the 89-year history of the NFL--but it apparently isn't enough. Three Super Bowls since 2001, an undefeated regular season a year ago, and a tragic loss of your Hall of Fame quarterback isn't as long of a leash as it should be for some of us.
As time was winding down in the fourth quarter, I leaned over to my father and said "You know, for the life of me I can't remember the last time we walked out of this stadium after a loss." Turns out it was a loss to the Jets in November 2006. If ever a team deserved a mulligan, it is this one. We have become so accustomed to greatness that it has clouded the judgment of many of us.
Whether you like it or not, it is going to be a roller coaster this year. Bets are off. The intangibles--oh say, like audience participation--mean a whole lot more this year than they would have in the past. Booing a team like you did yesterday tells me you are one of two things. Either you don't appreciate the gift that has been given to you the last several years or you had a ton of money riding on the Pats. Somewhere in Louisville right now, Rick Pitino has a little smirk that is edging to escape from his mouth.
If you don't like the product, sit on your hands. Silence is deafening; especially at Gillette Stadium.
Sure, Matt Cassel stunk up the joint on Sunday. But to pin the loss on him would be a tick unfair. The largest slice of the blame pie, interestingly enough, goes to the defensive front seven. Being unable to stop the run or get any pressure on a quarterback like Chad Pennington will do the trick most days.
Perhaps most alarming was the defense and the coaching staff's inability to make halftime and second half adjustments in a similar manner to the way they have done so time and again over the past few years. "They're going to blitz Pennington and throw the kitchen sink at them," I thought to myself in the third quarter. As for the Ronnie Brown option fiasco, it was maddening to see Pennington left unmolested as he lined up time and again as a wide receiver. Lining up Adalius Thomas across from him and giving the Miami quarterback the business would have forced Miami to pull the plug on their schoolyard antics in a hurry.
If you want to criticize the effort, play or coaching of the team you are certainly entitled to do so. A loss like yesterday makes a sports radio advertising account executive's eyes light up. But do the rest of us a favor before you further humiliate the rest of us and cut this team a break.
Idle Zinger thoughts while Babe Parilli was walking through that door yesterday during a halftime ceremony:
If you want my Edgar Renteria Red Sox t-shirt, you can have it. I was too embarassed to give it to Goodwill.
Given my abysmal track record of dating disasters back when I was single, back in the day I would have been the Matthew Slater of "illegal touching" penalties.
Oh, that reminds me that Mrs. Rousseau is warming up in the bullpen for her now world famous Bye Week Guest Column. It's an annual crowd favorite. The following actually happened. A few weeks ago, I see a friend for the first time in twenty years at a Red Sox game. He says "Geez, I love your column but I really love your wife's annual chance to bash you." Regrettably, this type of discussion happens more often than I would like.
You know it's a bad game when you lean over to your father and say "We don't have any answers to stop Greg Camarillo."
I was checking into a hotel room recently and Tatum Bell came up to me and offered to take my bags up to my room. Should I have been concerned?
If you listen to the fall wind, you can hear a new Ray Lamontagne album coming our way in October.
Finally, I'm going to put in a plug for Farm Aid . My wife and I were treated to a great show last Saturday night and living in a rural community like we do, the cause resonates with me.
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