Patriots Commentary Writer Bob George
      December 22, 2002      
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      Groundhog Day
    By: Kevin Rousseau/PatsFans.com

    Well, it's been the same story all season long, hasn't it? In a nutshell, the Patriots can't handle the title of defending Super Bowl champions and have fallen back into the vast abyss that is the middle of the pack in the NFL. When you have a target painted on your back and everybody has your game circled as their "big game," there is no room for lackluster execution. Historically, teams with middle of the pack talent, like the Patriots, have a difficult time dealing with this pressure. Currently, the Patriots are not loaded with superstars, but with decent, hard working football players. Perhaps that is what made us fall in love with this team last year and still endears us despite all the grief they have put us through this year.

    In fairness, the one thing you cannot fault the Patriots for this season is lack of effort. They may not have executed at critical moments or pushed teams around like they used to, but they have always showed up and given an effort. The Patriots are by no means a bad team or not worthy of your support. And they certainly don't deserve to be booed on their home field because they are down by a touchdown at halftime. Nonetheless, at the end of the day they are what they are. They're average, maybe just above average. Keep in mind that there are probably fans in many NFL cities right now that would happily trade places with you; the Patriots fan.

    If this is starting to sound like a eulogy for this season, then perhaps it is. Once you come to accept the fact that this season is on life support, your life will become much more bearable. Trust me. Regrettably, the best- case scenario is that the Patriots somehow regroup and win next Sunday against the Dolphins and the Jets lose to the Packers. This might extend the Patriots season a week or two into the playoffs. But you know as well as I do that all this is going to do is delay the inevitable elimination. As it stands now, this Patriots team is not going to make any waves in the playoffs. Sure, it might be a moral victory for the team and its fans to just get into the playoffs this year. But to this observer, it sure feels like its been a long, frustrating season that will probably should be euphemized at some point.

    As for Sunday's game against the Jets, I could launch into yet another diatribe about how the defense can't stop anybody, the offense can't execute on third down, or even how the coaching game plans and adjustments just haven't been up to par. But let's face it. You've been watching the same games that I have. You know what's going on with this team. If you have an inordinate amount of free time (or you appreciate fine, quality sports journalism from a NFL columnist-in-waiting), may I suggest that you click on the links to the right and read my previous article from last week's game against the Titans. In it, you will read about how the Patriots were manhandled on both sides of the line of scrimmage, the lack of a decent offensive game plan, and the inability of the defense to get off the field on third down. You could exchange the word Titans for Jets, and...Voila! There's your analysis of Sunday night's game.

    Okay, that's enough insightful analysis for another week (Editor's note: Please, there is only so much self-congratulatory writing that we can all take). Let's cut to the chase...

    Zingers...always the perfect holiday gift....

    You have to give a nod to former Patriots coach Pete Carroll for the job he has done at USC this season. I am by no means a college football aficionado but it appears to me that they are the second best team in the country right now. It appears he is much more suited to be coaching at the collegiate level.

    Speaking of USC, I've only watched a few games but I am pretty sure that their quarterback Carson Palmer will be the #1 pick in the draft.

    So, there I am on the ole' family computer the other night making last minute adjustments to my first-place fantasy football roster. Suddenly, the lovely Mrs. Rousseau pipes up from the other room "Enjoying your football fantasy?" Somehow, I think this exchange will be discussed in her bye week guest column next year. You've have been warned.

    There are few things more amusing in life than the camera zooming in on the expression on the face of a special teams coach after a stupid penalty by his squad negates a big return.

    Another example of something in life that bring me a chuckle would be a Miami Dolphins knit ski hat.

    The deal that sent Jon Gruden from Oakland to Tampa Bay is one of those rare trades where it has worked out well for both sides. Long term, though, I'll give the nod to the Raiders if they use all those draft picks wisely.

    Death, taxes, and Marty Schottenheimer-coached teams falling apart at the end of the season and in the playoffs.

    Seeing how it's Christmas and all, I thought it might be nice to hand out presents to various NFL types. Okay, here goes...

    For Vikings coach Mike Tice: A pencil sharpener for all those pencils resting above his ear. This guy always looks like he is getting ready to finish off the basement.

    For Redskins fans: An owner who doesn't make you apologize for being a fan of such a great franchise.

    For Jets coach Herm Edwards: A boxing scorecard to help out when fights at practice break out.

    For Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: Some humility and an understanding that he should not be the head personnel guy of his franchise.

    For Patriots center Damian Woody: Some recognition as one of the best and most versatile offensive lineman in the game today.

    For cable subscribers: Access to the NFL's Sunday Ticket package.

    For Packers receiver Terry Glenn: Enough catches and receiving yards so that the Patriots can receive a fourth-round pick in return for all the grief you gave us over the years.

    For Patsfans.com founder Ian Logue: More bandwidth as he continues to make this the most popular un-official Patriots website in the world.

    To Ironeyes, Stick, Scott from Harrisburg, the MDOT gang, and all the many other loyal readers of this weekly column: A sincere debt of gratitude for your kind words over the season.

    To my brother Brian, my father Bert, and Grandfather Don: Knowledge that the time we spend together watching the Patriots are some of the best times of my life.

    To Marky Mark: Attorney fees so that your will can be tidied up in order to clearly state what happens to our season tickets if....well, you know what.

    To myself: more bathrooms in the upper deck at Gillette Stadium. Hey, a man can dream can't he?

    Okay, that's it. Enjoy the holiday season and we'll chat next week. I would love to hear from you at patsfansince72@yahoo.com.


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