I have been writing these "Coping With Loss" articles since 2011. And in that time, I have written 12 of them. That means that the Patriots have only lost 12 times in my time here at Pats Pulpit - that's a pretty solid number. And usually, I never have a hard time coming up with five positives to take away from whenever the Patriots drop a game; after all, every team loses, and as long as you can build on those losses and get better week to week, everything should be fine.
Today, however, it took me a little bit longer than usual to find five takeaways that will hopefully make us all feel a little bit better this morning. Last night's loss was the worst I have seen in my tenure as a blogger here, and it's just something I'm not used to. If I was a Jets fan, this would be more or less par for the course, but when you see 41-14 on the scoreboard, New England is usually the team with 41. So this one was a little more difficult to write.
That said, things really aren't as bad as they seem. It's easy to still be bummed about what's happening at the moment, but all is well, trust me. And here's why.
Expected loss. I don't know about any of you, but I had this one down as an L when the schedule first came out. Now granted, I was thinking more along the lines of a 24-21 KC win, but at the end of the day a loss is a loss and when all is said and done it doesn't really matter if you lose by one point or...oh, I don't know...say 27. KC in a home Monday Night game when you just knew that they are going to be playing out of their minds has loss written all over it - and what a loss it was. The last two trips to KC saw Tommy B lost for the year and one of the worst defeats in the Bill Belichick era. But since this was a loss I had chalked up from the beginning, it's a little easier to swallow.
Lightening of the bandwagon. When you're good, you have bandwagon fans. It's a sports inevitability. And while nobody likes bandwagon fans, the Patriots have accrued more than their fair share over the years. Well I have a feeling that, in what is shaping more and more up to be an up and down season for New England, our bandwagon is going to get a whole lot lighter for a few months. And while I know that everyone will all be there to jump right back on towards the end of the year when the Patriots make the playoffs, it will be kind of nice to be rid of them for a little while.
Road trip is over. It may not have looked like much on paper, but three of four on the road during that month of the year where you are still figuring your team out is a pretty brutal stretch. Combine that with what I'm optimistically going to call "a period of discovery" for the Patriots, and suddenly .500 isn't looking so bad. New England now has five of their next seven games at home, and while there are a few tough ones on the schedule, starting this Sunday against a rested Bengals team, the Patriots always play well at home. October is where you really start building momentum for the second half of the season, and New England will be at home for much of it.
Rough day for the AFC East. Dolphins win over the Raiders aside, the entire AFC East had a pretty rough outing this past week with losses from the Jets and Bills. Plus with the Broncos failing to get a win this week as well, the results from around the league could have been worse.Plus, the AFC East is shaping up to be the worst in football, and as we have seen time and time again, the only thing that really matters is making the playoffs.
Pats will be fine. In spite of Monday's game, I still honestly believe that. I'm sure that there are plenty of people who are going to disagree with this point (see #2 above), but I still think that the Patriots are going to be fine when the games start to really matter. This is the kind of loss that is going to stick in Belichick's craw, as well as Brady's, and it very well may be the wakeup call that everyone needed, starting with the coaches and working all the way down. Sure, it would have been great if New England had opened the year firing on all cylinders, but it looks like this is going to be one of those years where they start slow and finish strong. Now if you want to say I'm looking at this team through rose-colored glasses and I simply can't see the truth, go for it. I suppose you have reason to do so. But what's the alternative? Want me to give up? Want me to throw the whole season away and start planning for next year? Calling for a Brady trade to let the Jimmy G era begin? No thanks. I'm pessimistic enough as it is. Don't really feel like using September as my benchmark for the whole season. I'm instead going to go by what the Patriots have done historically and use their proven track record as my compass rather than a few early games. Pats will be fine.