Welcome FOX/MSN vistors…please feel free to check out the rest of the site. Here’s a few other football related posts:

  • This Season’s Patriots Coverage Part One
  • This Season’s Patriots Coverage Part Two
  • Chat with Moving the Chains author Charles P Pierce. (Book on Tom Brady)
  • Bill Belichick and the New England Media (April, 2005)

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After barely managing to avoid beating themselves the last two weekends, the Patriots took a major step back yesterday afternoon in their quest to return to Super Bowl glory. The Patriots offense could not mount a threatening drive all afternoon, as the Miami Dolphin defense harassed Tom Brady all afternoon and shut out the anemic Patriots 21-0. The Patriots did not even make a single trip into the red zone all afternoon, making it only as far as the 33 yard line.

The game stories are ugly, (Patriots News Mashup) and perhaps for once Patriots fans might be hoping for the Red Sox to steal the spotlight from them this week. It may be a week for fans to adjust their expectations for a franchise that has set the bar so high. It’s actually an interesting process in the progression of a team. As a squad is on the way up, each victory is exhilarating, and the losses, though stinging, are not incredibly painful because victory is not yet “expected” each week. Then when a team reaches the top and does so in such a dominating fashion as the Patriots of 2003 and especially 2004 did, the wins become expected. In fact, wins are no longer enough. Perfection is strived for. A rare loss is unexpected and painful. The regular season isn’t quite as enjoyed as it should be, because all eyes and anticipation are towards the playoffs.

Then the club goes through a couple of seasons where they are still very good, but not quite at the previous levels, yet the fan expectations have been set high by the previous editions, even though they have nothing to do with the current team.

Losses become maddening. Anger results. You see familiar names and faces on the field, yet the results are not what you have come to expect. A quick check around various outlets, blogs, message boards and the like finds a lot of frustration over the performance of yesterday. It’s passion, yes, but the bitterness and anger just seems a little over the top. Why is the anger there? Frustration mostly, but the frustration stems from high expectations not being remotely met.

That’s where the adjustment in expectations comes. Football season is a tremendous time of the year. Each week should be enjoyed. The Patriots only have three regular season games remaining. Just three weeks of guaranteed football. They’re probably going to make the playoffs, but what are our expectations once there? Because of the last few years, anything less than a Super Bowl victory is going to result in the season being labeled a failure. For an organization that means that they have come a long way in expectations over the years, both for the fans and the franchise internally. 20 years ago could you have imagined a time when a 9-4 team would be dismissed and criticized the way this one has been? No way.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s tremendous that expectations are so high for this team. But it almost seems to me that those expectations can also take away from the fun of watching football. The wins are not enjoyed enough and picked apart. They’re projected as future losses – “they’ll never beat a team in the playoffs playing like that.” Actual losses, especially ugly losses, of which the Patriots have four of this season, are cause for meltdowns. I take losses as hard as anyone, in fact I take poor play as bad as anyone (Ask my wife how I was during the third quarter of the Lions game – I had to leave the house and go change the taillight on my car – I just couldn’t watch it anymore.) but I think I get over it pretty quick, and start to look forward to next week almost immediately.

Pretty soon there isn’t going to be a next week, and then what will we do? Pine away for Red Sox hot stove news? Watch the Celtics struggle with young players another year? Watch the Bruins win something like 10 of 13 games and still be in last place?

I had high hopes and expectations for this club. My hopes are still high, but my expectations have been lowered. I’m going to try and enjoy football for the next few weeks, following them as avidly as I always do, but rather than expecting a win each week as if it were a birthright, I’m going to hope for wins, but mostly try to enjoy the experience of football. It’s the best I can do to keep my sanity.

I’m not sure if any of that made sense, but it was therapeutic.

The plan for today is to try and fit in a couple short updates here over the course of the day. I don’t know what they’ll be as of yet, but I’ll try to get them in. The Patriots news page link was above, here’s a few others for the morning:

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