NOTE: This letter is only meant to be read if the Patriots lose to the Jets tonight and I need to talk myself off the ledge.
***TO BE OPENED AND READ ONLY IN THE CASE OF A PATRIOTS LOSS. IN THE EVENT OF A VICTORY, DISREGARD***
Hi Alec. It's Alec.
How are you doing? You OK?
If you're reading this right now, that means that the unthinkable has happened and the Jets upset the Patriots on national television tonight, completely ruining your favorite day of the year and making you want to throw up all that turkey you have been gorging on nonstop since about 11:30 AM. It also means that you're completely miserable and getting ready to spend the rest of the week scouring the internet for all of the articles breaking down this game and highlighting why the Patriots lost a game they really should have won and how the team failed to put a real stranglehold on the AFC East. And while there's no way I can stop you from paying attention to what everyone has to say, I can only hope that you remember writing this letter and you come here first.
Odds are that you're going to hear a whole lot of crap over the next ten days about whether or not the Patriots will be able to move on without Rob Gronkowski. There will probably be a lot of articles talking about whether or not the Jets have turned the corner and debates on if they have a shot at the Wild Card, maybe even the division title. I'd suspect that there is going to be more than one
moron reporter questioning Belichick's team-building, decision making, and why the hell he bothered signing all those tight ends if they aren't going to make a difference anyway. Maybe New England's toughness will come into question and there will be a whole storyline of "Gronk's toughness missed both on and off the field." The bottom line is that, no matter how the game plays out, what the score is, and how both teams play, the only thing that anyone is going to focus on if the Patriots lose is Rob Gronkowski's absence and how Bill Belichick's decision to leave him in late cost his team a W. Nobody will care that Chandler Jones might not suit up. Nobody is going to take into account the fact that the Jets are a desperate team who always plays the Patriots tough, especially at home, and they finally got some momentum going with a big win last week against the Rams. It won't matter if Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly are absent. It won't even matter if Aaron Hernandez plays and has a 200 yard, 4 touchdown day. What's going to happen is that a Patriots loss is going to be equated with no Gronk, and that's just the way it is.
Don't you buy into it, Alec. Don't you buy into one word of it.
Of course not having Gronk will affect the team. To say that they won't miss that big lug is just plain ridiculous. But it's equally as ridiculous to act like the Pats have no shot at doing anything without their best red zone threat in the game. I'm going to guess that if the Patriots did lose tonight, they lost because of another late defensive collapse, a smart, efficient Mark Sanchez, and a continued and sudden inability to stop the running game. Those are all factors that cost the team games in the past even with Gronk in the lineup. Coming into a short week in which a new gameplan will have to be instituted is challenging, and there are bound to be a few hiccups as the Patriots continue to adjust.
But adjust they will. It's what they do.
So step away from the computer. Relax. Go have another few pieces of pie. It's all gonna be OK. The team is 7-4 and still very much in the driver's seat in the AFC East. There are a lot of very winnable games coming up, and the offense is going to figure everything out in time to make the playoffs - at which point we get Gronk back.
Also, don't forget about that emergency 12 pack you stashed behind the shed for this exact scenario. Odds are that uncle Hugh drank all the good stuff, and you look like you could use a beer or ten right about now.