The Patriots' losses to Baltimore and Arizona are only temporary setbacks
The New England Patriots are 2-2? Is the world ending? The simple answer is "no," and Patriots fans shouldn't even be concerned about the team's early struggles.
New England has become the face of consistency and success in the NFL. The team is always in the playoffs, and the Patriots have made the Super Bowl twice in the last six seasons.
Yet for some reason, doubt is creeping into the Pats fan base. Yes, the team is 2-2, but is this really cause for concern?
The Patriots are allowed to show a little vulnerability from time to time. In fact, it's better they do it now than in the playoffs.
All is well and good in Bill Belichick's hood, and here are a few reasons why.
Gostkowski's missed field goal only confirmed Arizona's talent, not New England's demise
Let's be clear, the Patriots' two losses were not blowouts. They lost to Arizona by two points, and they lost to Baltimore by one point.
The Cardinals are 4-0 this season, so the Pats lost a close game to one of the three undefeated teams in the league. The loss also came by way of a rare miss on a late field goal by kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Gostkowski was 3-for-3 on the day before the kick, and two were longer than the 42-yard attempt that he missed in the end.
Ironically, New England's other loss came by way of a last second field goal. Justin Tucker kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired to win 31-30.
Two losses to teams with a combined 7-1 record is acceptable, especially when they were by a combined three points.
The Patriots won't go undefeated, but if this is the worst they deal with, they will be more than fine.
Santonio Holmes may have taken the last of the Jets offense with him
Another reason Pats fans should not fret is that they play in the AFC East. The other teams are so riddled with problems that New England will win the division almost by default.
The 1-3 Miami Dolphins have some potential, but they are no real threat.
Reggie Bush is an explosive running back, and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has shown some potential as a starter. But let's face it, this team is far from contending.
Tannehill currently has six interceptions compared to two touchdowns. He is completing just 56 percent of his passes. And if he's not throwing to WR Brian Hartline, he isn't throwing to anyone, as Miami lacks anything resembling a receiving corps.
Also, for as good as Reggie Bush has played, lack of a passing game has resulted in just about 22 points per game. Not exactly a powerhouse.
As for 2-2 Buffalo, they are all offense. Unfortunately, the defense has about as much bite as a chihuahua.
The Bills actually looked scary when they had a 21-7 lead against the Pats in Week 4, but then they realized that they couldn't fake a defense for an entire game. The defense that allowed 48 points to the New York Jets allowed 52 points to the Patriots.
At least these teams have something to build on. The Jets must be preparing for Halloween because their play is just ugly.
Their opening week against Buffalo was great. After having an inept offense all preseason, it exploded for 48 points against the Bills.
Then, New York played actual defenses like Pittsburgh and San Francisco. That went well, as the offense scored a combined 10 points.
At least the defense did well, right?
Pittsburgh scored 27 points, while the 49ers scored 34, with one touchdown coming on a fumble return for a touchdown. CB Darrelle Revis is out, and it has become open season on the Jets.
They cannot stop the run or pass. They cannot run or pass on offense. I guess everyone knows what time it is. Tebow time!
So the Jets' only hope is a guy the Pats obliterated in the playoffs last season?
See, New England fans? Absolutely nothing to worry about.
Ridley has emerged as a top 10 back this season
One of the best offenses in the league had been lacking a key feature: New England's offense has rarely featured a reliable running game.
This isn't handing the ball off to TE Aaron Hernandez or a misdirection to a Danny Woodhead/Kevin Faulk type. The Patriots have lacked a hard-nosed, downhill running game that features an actual running back, and doesn't rely on a scatback.
The last one New England had was Corey Dillon, but even then he was at the end of his years. The Pats offense has been very pass-oriented since. The lack of a legitimate running game could be why New England has not won a Super Bowl in recent years.
That has all changed. The Patriots have a running game, and it could be one of the best in football.
Leading this style of offense that has been foreign to the Pats in recent years is Stevan Ridley.
The LSU product has had two 100-yard rushing games, and he has not lost a fumble. He can run with power and finesse, and he looks like he could be a feature back. Ridley could easily breach 1,000 yards rushing, the Pats' first to do so since BenJarvus Green-Ellis squeaked past the mark in 2010.
What is even more surprising is that Ridley may not be the only solid player in the backfield. Brandon Bolden had a breakout game against Buffalo.
Bolden made his case for playing time with 137 yards on 16 carries. At 5'11", 220 pounds, Bolden has ideal size for a running back, and New England could have the making of the next two-headed monster in the NFL.
Sean Rollins of RantSports.com wrote that the Patriots' run game was in trouble. Green-Ellis had left via free agency, and second-year back Shane Vereen went down with an injury before the season began.
The Pats would probably agree that there is no longer a problem at running back, and that is a big problem for the rest of the league.
Brady is still an elite quarterback, and the Super Bowl is likely
If all else fails, Pats fans should be comforted by the fact Tom Brady is still the quarterback.
Three rings, a couple Super Bowl MVP's and an amazingly sexy wife should cover all the bases for New England fans.
With that kind of combination, how could fans worry?
As far as football goes, Brady has thrown for over 300 yards in three of his four games. He also has seven touchdowns and only one interception.
The former sixth-round pick is everything a fan wants in a quarterback. He has a good arm, great accuracy, amazing awareness and his decision-making is second to none.
There is not much more to say. The guy smiles and the worry goes away.
Tom Brady is one of the most successful and most competitive players in the NFL. If New England fans cannot trust in him, then there are probably 25 other teams that would.
The Patriots are on the path to the Super Bowl, and the recent "struggles" are like waiting for ducks to cross. Now that the brief obstructions are over, the Pats will be on their merry way.