|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
Dear Kyle Arrington,
Your recent tweet filled me with concern. You seem so worried that “fake fans” (as you so cleverly hashtagged them) will try to jump back on the Patriot “bandwagon” once your team’s horrific defense improves. The thought of phoney-baloney cheers replacing the ever-present boo-birds currently echoing through Gillette Stadium clearly haunts your dreams.
Since journalists are in many ways “fake fans,” let me assure you – a fake cornerback – that you don’t need to worry: no matter how good the Patriots might get later, fans will never jump on your bandwagon.
Patriots fans do not like you, Arrington. They never have, and they never will.
When fans think of great Patriot defensive backs, they don’t think about you. No, their memories are too filled with names like Ty Law, Asante Samuel and Rodney Harrison. Defensive leaders like Tedy Bruschi – a linebacker, sure, but still a better defender than you – make them smile. You just make them cringe.
You’re young. Patriots fans get that. And you never got a fair shot at winning the fans’ hearts last season because fellow rookie Devin McCourty developed into a shutdown corner. They get that, too.
But this season McCourty has struggled alongside the rest of the Patriot defense. You’ve had countless opportunities to steal McCourty’s spotlight. Considering how few defensive stars there are on this team, how hard could that really be?
Yes, Arrington, you have the most defensed passes and interceptions on the team. Some of that success is a testament to the talent you display just often enough to drive Patriots fans crazy because you can’t play that well more often. But some of that success is also just dumb luck. And too often you immediately overshadow those positive plays with far worse negative ones.
Sunday’s defensive stinker of a loss to the New York Giants exemplifies all of that. Eli Manning was at your 5-yard line and moronically floated a pass into double-coverage in the end zone. Manning shouldn’t have made that pass in the first place, but you read the floater, made an acrobatic leap and intercepted the ball. A great play, and it lead to a game-tying touchdown.
But your play two Giants possessions later more than canceled out the pick. First, you get flagged on a ridiculous 35-yard pass-interference call. The call wasn’t ridiculous: your inability to simply turn your head around and play the ball was. That textbook penalty put the Giants at your 40.
They got all the way to the 10, and then on a third-and-5 when everyone knew they would pass, you let Mario Manningham – the same player you interfered with earlier – torch you for an easy touchdown pass.
This is the way you’ve played the majority of your time in Foxborough: turned around, out of position, beaten. You are the Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Patriots: usually terrible, occasionally just good enough to not personally sink your team, and never, ever fun to watch.
The Patriots could very well improve. The offense could reassert its 30-point attack, making sloppy defense less dangerous. McCourty, or perhaps another defensive back, could become the dynamic secondary player the Patriots need. The defensive line – not quite as bad as everyone thinks – could finally break through against opposing quarterbacks and force more bad passes.
Should any or all of those things happen, you’re right that everyone booing now will quickly change their tune. The so-called “fake fans” will return.
But Arrington, you don’t need to worry about that. You don’t have, have never had and will never have any fans – fake or otherwise.