Well that sure hurt a lot.
Tuesday-morning quarterbacks called in to WEEI and ranted about the defensive line, Deltha O'Neal's inability to cover anything, and Matt Cassel playing scared.
However, in my opinion, all is still well for the defending AFC champs, especially considering the state that the league is in right now. Simply put, there are no great teams. None.
This is GOOD for the league.
So the Patriots fall to the Chargers, their "superfans" act like they've been somehow vindicated by beating a Tom Brady-less team in October, and fans in New England are ready to hit the panic button. Not so fast people. I still fully expect the Patriots to win the AFC East and be competitive by the end of the season. Here's why.
1. Learning Curve
Matt Cassel followed up his best game of the season with his worst, leaving a legion of fans shaking their heads in disbelief. I'm going to let this slide, especially considering the lack of protection that he had most of the game. As the season goes along, look for Cassel to throw the deep ball a little bit more and test defenses with different looks. The kid can play, he just needs to get rid of the ball quicker and more effectively.
2. The Redemption of the Patriots' Defense
I know the old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." The Patriots' defense fooled me twice so far this year (vs. Miami and San Diego), but shame on them! Their defensive line is the best in football (or so I'm told every pregame), but they have yet to do anything notable this season.
Their linebackers used to be the playmakers, but when was the last time Tedy Bruschi or Mike Vrabel has made a play? Their defensive backs are the biggest problem, as they let up big play after big play against San Diego.
Deltha O'Neal making the team was a shock to me, and now I can see why. The dude is Duane Starks-esque. However, this defense takes a lot of pride in their play and shouldn't keep getting outworked. Bad defensive play from the Patriots isn't a trend (yet).
The Pats still have the easiest schedule in the league, which bodes well for their postseason chances. There are a bunch of winnable games left for the Pats to finish their season with a 10-6 record (which would be fine with me).
4. No threats
As stated above, there are no great teams in the NFL. Even if we had to play the Titans in the first round of the playoffs, there is no way that that matchup would scare New England. I just don't see the Patriots being intimidated by anyone, especially after this embarrassing loss.
5. Denver. Monday Night. Biggest Game of the Season.
Denver has been the only team to own Bill Belichick during his tenure with the Patriots, which makes this game much more important than it was last week. This game is an absolute must win for the Patriots, as back-to-back losses on national TV will have people in New England calling for someone's head. Don't look for Bill to get outcoached or the Patriots to get outplayed this Monday.
I honestly feel that this team is not done, and even though they are No. 17 on the meaningless ESPN Power Rankings, there are not a lot of teams out there that can present a challenge to the Patriots.
Until shoddy defensive play like this becomes a trend, you won't see this guy jumping ship like so many others already have. The time is now for this team. Everyone needs to step up, including Cassel, Josh McDaniels, Laurence Maroney, the defense, and Bill Belichick.
In Bill we trust.