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How about a little faith in the Patriots?

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  October 1, 2012 03:30 PM

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Man, I've been there. I know, I remember, what it's like to get frustrated -- irrationally so -- about a team for which you cheer each Sunday with high expectations and a low tolerance for perceived underachievement.

After a 28-10 loss to the Packers during the 2002 season, when I worked at a different newspaper and scarcely masked how much I cared about the local teams, I remember writing a column imploring the Patriots -- the defending champion Patriots -- to cut a young running back who had failed to pursue a fumble that eventually stood up as a crucial play in the game.

In retrospect, I'm glad Bill Belichick wasn't a Concord Monitor subscriber. Knowing how heavily influenced he is by us media goofs, I'd have hated to be responsible for him cutting Kevin Faulk four seasons into his wonderful career.

Of course, I still have my small grievances and recurring complaints. I'm becoming convinced that Patrick Chung, someone I've hoped could be the defense's hard-hitting center fielder since he got here in 2009, is just good enough to be in position to not make a play. But my concerns in watching this extraordinary football team, one that has had an unfathomable run of success in the salary cap era, are based on mounting evidence, not hyperbole, gathered over the span of weeks rather than a lousy half-hour of football.

And that's where I differ from a lot of Patriots fans I've been hearing from lately. I will never understand the rush to be the first to declare that run over, to go over-the-top caterwauling with equal measures of entitlement and ignorance about this team that is still on the short list of Super Bowl favorites.

I recognize that some missed opportunities -- the two Super Bowl losses to the Giants, and the difficult-to-justify loss to the Colts in the '06 AFC Championship game -- have added a layer of cynicism or skepticism. They've been stuck on three Lombardi Trophies for seven seasons. There could have been more, and there should have been, and there will always be that tinge of regret.

But the complaints about this team seem to be unfiltered this year, more bitter and demanding in tone. I think I hit my personal tipping point during Friday's chat when one reader asked me to "talk me off the ledge'' about this team. The ledge? The fewest games they've won since 2001 is nine -- and that was 10 years ago.

And I officially tipped over Sunday when I filled in as the host for the in-game chat. The negativity when the Patriots fell behind by seven points in the first half floored me -- I took a survey at halftime and 68 percent thought the Patriots would lose the game.

Sixty-eight percent. I know it's just a small sampling of Patriots fans ... but 68 percent?

I'm not saying it should have been all happy-happy, joy-joy, with visions of unicorns, puppy dogs and Lombardi Trophies dancing in our heads as we zipped to the fridge at halftime. They played like the Chiefs in the first half -- the Saints, even. They wasted golden opportunities on turnovers. But we've seen this movie before -- perform sluggishly by their standards in the first half, adjust, destroy opponent in the second half, take the win and move on.

And yet the cynicism -- the downright anger -- was such that I found myself moderating comments such as these:

BB will make an example of somebody on Monday "if" they fall. Maybe McCourty gets cut

Devin McCourty is a bright, thoughtful, talented kid who is probably too honest about his confidence issues and had a brutal second season. He was also has had such success in this league that he was named All-Pro as a rookie. You don't cut that guy. You repair him.

what is most disgusting is that the Pats seem to accept their fate..no fire in the belly

This one came after Gronk's first-half fumble ... in which he coughed up the ball after trying to gain an extra yard or two, something he does as well as anyone in football. Yes, he played the first half like he was still wearing the Hulk Hands from his ESPN photo shoot. But he redeemed himself. Seems like a character trait that most of his teammates have as well.

enough of the apologies - these are very highly paid paid players- nothing less than excellence and incredible effort is acceptable

The Bills are paid, too. They gave up 45 points in the second half. I hope their checks bounce. That'll show 'em.

it's amazing how the patriots can look as bad as the red sox.

The only thing the 2012 Patriots have in common with the 2012 Red Sox is a single-digit win total in September.

here is an interesting fact.... Brady started dating Giselle in the winter of 2007... the pats haven't won a super bowl since...

Right, because Tara Reid was a WINNAH. Actually, Tara Reid may have written this ... with ink made of Bridget Moynahan's blood!

No receiver worth his weight on the roster, except Welker. Welker is in downward spiral and will be with another team next year. What is the matter with Grankowski? no much effort there. ... Grab a fan from the crowd and they would be a better player !!!

Nope. Not even if Bob Gladieux was at the game.

Pats will struggle to win 6 games this year

OK, I ... It's just ... I ... six. Six wins ... [Deep breath] ... OK, I'm going to give this a shot: It's tempting to say they'll have six wins by the end of this month, but I'll be conservative here and say they have six wins by Nov. 11. They have Denver this Sunday, then at Seattle, home against the national punch-line known as the Jets, and then at the Rams to close out October. Then there's the bye week, and the Bills again on the 11th. They could lose to Peyton Pennington and the Broncos, since he might be capable of exposing their safety issues, and at Seattle is a tough game even with the real refs. But they're winning at least 4 of the next 5, which puts them at 6-3.


The SB loser curse seems to be in effect.

Shut up, you.

no passion, no fire

Shut up, YOU.

The problems start and end with Belichek ... he owns this team and it might be time to realize his genius is past.

All right, that's enough. Way too much, actually. But sheesh, talk about first-world problems. With Belichick, whose scheme is outdated despite 136 wins since the beginning of the 2001 season and 27 the past two years, and Brady, who isn't the player he was in '07, and McCourty, who should be cut, and Welker, who is being phased out, and Gronk who partied away his mojo with actresses over the summer, somehow they dropped 42 points in the second half, scored 52, lead the NFL in points scored, have lost two games by a total of three points to teams that are combined 7-1, and they've done it without Aaron Hernandez, arguably the most versatile offensive player in the league.

Yep, it's a mess. But it's nothing Rex Ryan couldn't fix. Now there's a coach.

All right, now I'm getting hyperbolic. It's apparently contagious. Listen, I get the negativity to some extent. I do. Overreaction is part of being a fan. Maybe griping about this team helps you blow off steam after a long week at work or a long morning of apple picking against your will.

I've been there. But this is too much. You've got it so good, and some of you -- not all by any stretch, but a vocal some -- seem to take it for granted.

Maybe I'm too sentimental or sappy, but whenever I arrive at Gillette Stadium on game day and walk through the hordes of tailgaters in the parking lot, grilling food that I'm tempted to steal if only I had breakaway speed, I remember it's a privilege to be there at this particular place and time, covering this team. And that's me, a sports writer, miserable by law if not nature.

I know -- you pay those those prices -- for tickets, a jersey, a parking space a mile down Rt. 1, whatever -- and you're entitled to do what you want. Of course. That's the fan's prerogative. But you know why you still pay those prices? Because it's a damn good thing they have going, and it's worth it.

The defense is fast and young. The offense is as well-rounded as it has ever been, including 2007. There are a couple of intriguing running backs. Brady is playing brilliantly. Dante Scarnecchia is piecing together another good line. Brandon Lloyd has added another element to the passing game.

I don't care that they're 2-2. This is a more talented team than the one that was a play or two from winning the Super Bowl.

Here's what really stinks. Someday, the naysayers will be right. There's going to be a time when Belichick has retired to become a hoodie model and the quarterback is distinguished Senator Brady or retired to a private beach in Costa Rica or both, and some rudimentary passer, probably named Ryan, is going to be quarterbacking this team. They'll be something far less than what they are now, and the search for things to complain about will be fruitful.

If you need misery to be fulfilled, look up Marc Wilson on pro-football-reference.com some time. But damn, think for yourselves, and maintain perspective. Enjoy this team while you have it.

Maybe some of you learned that lesson in the second half. That halftime poll I harangued you about earlier in which 68 percent thought the Patriots would lose?

It was down to 61 percent by the game's end.

I'll count that as progress.


About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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