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This Is What We Have. This Is What We Have To Do.

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For the Patriots to be successful, they have to stick to the mission and do their jobs.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

As a society, we have developed somewhat of a throw away / do over mentality.  It used to be if your TV doesn't work, you fixed it.  Then it went to your TV not working and you replaced it.  Then it went to your TV working fine, but not having all the bells and whistles, so you replaced it.  That mentality moved on to bigger and bigger items, major appliances, cars, and houses.  Eventually, it moved on to relationships.  No need to fix them, because there's always a newer model with more features out there.

That mentality has been aided by the presence of video games, and the ability to get a do-over at any time.  Boss battle creams you in 3 seconds.  Do-over.  Should have done a roll to avoid that missile.  Do-over.  Video games also allow you to use cheat codes.  Turn on unlimited invincibility and even the hardest game is a walk in the park.  That works great in game physics, but real physics shows us there are limits, and as that great philosopher Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (James Doohan) said, "You cannot change the laws of physics."

I bring this up because it has become a very natural reaction these days to jettison everything at the first sign of trouble.  In this case, it is the Patriots that are in trouble.  So far, I've seen where we need to get a whole new offensive line, offensive line coach, offensive coordinator, quarterback, receivers, defense, and head coach.  It makes sense.  After all, the shelves are stocked at Wal-Mart with all of those things and they are still in their original packaging.  It's just a matter of maxing out our credit cards and we're in business.  Those who can see the sarcasm, please explain it to those that can't.

Now yes, I served in the military, and no, I was never on the front lines.  I was however, forced to go to several leadership schools and through several leadership activities.  In most of the activities, you are given a certain number of people, certain supplies, and a mission.  You don't have all of the people that you could want.  You don't have the skill sets of other people's teams.  You don't have nearly all of the supplies to make the job easy.  You simply have what you have and you have a job to do.  In the field, it's not just the lives of the people in your group that matters, it's also the success of the mission that can impact the lives of far more than your group.  You are just a small part of the overall battle plan.   As the mission wears on, you can lose some of your team, but it doesn't change the mission. Football games don't carry near that importance, but the same ideas work.

Now I've seen leaders with more material and more talented people fail because of poor leadership.  I've seen leaders with less material and less talented people succeed in the same test.  It's not the talent of the people, but the work of the team that is important.  If you don't have a tall man, then put someone on the shoulders of another and move on.  You can solve the same task many different ways, and one of the strengths of the team is their ideas.  Successful leaders listen to the input of others and decide their course of action from there.  At any point in time, if the plan isn't working, successful leaders adjust.  In the heat of battle, there isn't time to hold a committee; the leader's command is law.  There is a cohesiveness of action and everyone needs to know their part to be successful.

Now there isn't a quick fix to the ills of the Patriots.  There is no wholesale change that will right the ship.  If I was coach Belichick, my message would be simple.  "Look around this locker room.  This is what we have to work with.  If we're going to be successful, each one of us must do his job.  It's up to us.  It's up to each one of you.  We're playing a game this week and this is what we must do to win it.  If anyone has something to say, say it now and let's move on.  If you have problems with someone in this locker room, put it behind you.  This is what we have.  This is what we have to do.  It will take all of us together to get this done."

I believe the Patriots have all that they need in both their players and in their coaching staff to fix their problems, but it will take a coordinated effort to do so.  That will mean coming up with game plans that fit the personnel, players acting like adults and not back talking the coaches, and coaches listening to the ideas of the players (even if they don't necessarily act on them).  That will also require leadership on the sidelines and on the field.  The Bengals provide a huge challenge for us, but the Patriots have a long history of rising to challenges because they know this is what we have, and this is what we have to do.  More than anything, that is the Patriot Way.