The Patriots Will Be OK. (Even If Dan Shaughnessy Won't)

OK, deep breaths, everybody. The Patriots got positively shellacked yesterday, there’s no two ways about it. For most of the game, the offense was doing its best MBTA impression (missed connections, frequent stops, derailing), and the defense was about as unbending as a Massachusetts judge ruling on a DUI case (I dare you to find a sentence with two more tortured local references than that this morning. Oh crap, Shaughnessy. Too easy.). All that being said, I’m pretty sure the Patriots are going to play out the rest of the games on the schedule. I’m also pretty sure they’ll will win a lot more games than they lose. I know those are sort of obvious statements, but cruising around the internet this morning, you’d think the Pats’ season was already over.

Back to Shaughnessy, who’s not only given up on the rest of the season, but by afternoon could be starting a petition for the Pats to give back the five wins they’ve already accumulated. He writes:

New England is 5-2, but the Patriots have been aided by opponent gaffes, perhaps because of the intimidation most coaches feel when in the presence of Bill Belichick.

Think about it: Other than Rex Ryan, most of the coaches bow at the altar of the Hoodie and it makes them do dumb things. Players, too. They all turn into puddles in the presence of New England’s institutional greatness, and that’s how you get Jason Garrett playing not to lose, Jason Campbell throwing the ball to the wrong team, and Norv Turner doing what Norv Turner does. They are like MIT seniors fumbling around at the Playboy Mansion.

The Patriots have relied on the kindness of strangers, and that is how they came to be a 5-1 team that once again looks like it might exit in the first round of the playoffs.

Got that? The Patriots’ five victories are directly attributable to an arbitrarily chosen member of the opposing teams giving the game away because of deeply rooted psychological fear of Bill Belichick. All right.

But Shank wasn’t the only one playing taps this morning. In the Herald, Ron Borges reminds us that Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Richard Seymour, and Asante Samuel aren’t walking through that door to save the Pats’ depleted D. And over at Grantland, Bill Barnwell writes “A Requiem for the Patriots Defense.” I’d turn on sports radio to hear what they’re saying, but I’m too scared I’m going to find out that Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth spent halftime drinking beer and eating fried chicken. (Actually, did anyone even see Albert Haynesworth yesterday? Maybe Vince ate him.) So yes, the Patriots D has some big problems. And Barnwell’s piece makes some darned good points about where they come from. The team’s offense, however, is on most days extraordinary. Last year, that combo was good enough to get them to 14-2. This year? Who knows what will happen. But it seems worth it to watch the rest of the season to find out.