BACK ALLEY/GILLETTE STADIUM - The New England Patriots are running scared. They are also passing scared. Unfortunately, the Pats have everything to fear, including fear itself.
The New England team has had a string of bad luck, and a string of bad players this early season. You cannot blame them for being a little nervous and fearful.
Rob Gronkowski is a case in point. You may rest assured that the Patriots will not play Gronk this week as they are terrified that he will be reinjured. With all they have mishandled, the Belichick braintrust cannot afford to face the wrath of fandom if Gronk is injured playing on Sunday.
Fear governs this team because it played fearless too long.
Now the chickens are home to roost, and there are more chickens in the front office of the Patriots than Old MacDonald ever sang about.
Stevan Ridley may be holding onto a rabbit's foot this week because if he drops that, all is lost. Belichick required that Ridley watch the old football movie called The Program several times as punishment, which includes a scene about a player who must carry a football everywhere after a fumble.
When he loses it in the classroom, all hell breaks loose.
If Ridley loses another ball, he should fear the wrath of Belichick, which will make Benedict Cumberbatch's anger in Star Trek into Darkness seem like a walk in the Gillette Stadium parking lot.
No doubt Patriot fears are legion this week. From running to passing to special teams, the fear-mongers are justified the Bucs will be beating the tom-toms to Tom Brady.