FOXBOROUGH — The biggest question — the only question, really — after the Patriots’ 41-14 loss on Monday night at Kansas City is how quickly they’ll be able to turn things around after a performance that ranks as one of the franchise’s worst over the past two decades.
With Cincinnati bringing a 3-0 record into Sunday night’s game at Gillette Stadium, can the Patriots show marked improvement against a solid opponent, or will their spotty play over the first four games continue?
Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, the second-longest-tenured Patriot (he has been with the team since 2004), expressed strong confidence after Thursday’s practice that their poor play will get corrected.
“We will get better,” said Wilfork. “I have full confidence in this team. We have a lot of great guys around this locker room that have played a lot of football and know what it takes to win.”
Wilfork and the defense gave up a season-high 443 yards to the Chiefs in the Patriots’ 27-point loss, their worst setback since opening the 2003 season with a 31-0 loss at Buffalo. A loss on Sunday would give the Patriots (2-2) their worst record after five games since 2001.
If you put any stock in history, at least one thing is working in the Patriots’ favor: their ability to bounce back from lopsided defeats.
Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have lost 11 games by 20 points or more. Of the previous 10 lopsided defeats before Monday’s, the Patriots followed by winning the next game nine times. The exception was 2009, when the Patriots lost by 21 at New Orleans (also a Monday night game), then lost at Miami the next week, 22-21.
Without paying much attention to the track record, Wilfork is expecting a similar turnaround. Or at least a similar effort, and a firm commitment to the team’s approach.
“Can’t live in the past, not in this league,” he said. “And we’re not. We’ll be better.
“The most frustrating thing is you go out and you have good practices, and you can’t get it together. We have to continue to believe in what we do, and just do it a little bit better. Start making more plays, playing together as a team. If we do that, we’ll be OK.”
With Sunday night’s opponent featuring one of the best receivers in the NFL, it could set the stage for cornerback Darrelle Revis to finally show off the coverage skills that gave him the nickname “Revis Island.”
But how often will Revis line up opposite Cincinnati’s A.J. Green? Might it be a request he would personally make to Belichick?
“Maybe I could. I don’t know,” said Revis. “I feel comfortable with approaching Bill about anything, whether if it’s on the field, or if it’s something off the field. Bill is very open to players coming up to him.
“At the same time, it’s a team effort on defense, it’s not one individual. Whatever’s best for the defense game planning-wise to help us win, that’s what we’re going to do.
“The goal out of this is getting a win. If I’m inside, outside, if I’m coming off the edge, we’re just trying to get a W.”
Revis said he has made coverage requests to go up against specific receivers in the past. He’s also lined up against outside receivers and receivers lined up inside, in the slot, over the course of his career. The Bengals use Green (12 catches, 233 yards) in a variety of ways, so if Revis blankets him, expect to see the two all over the field.
‘Happy’ with Goodell
At a Bloomberg Business of Sports luncheon in Boston Thursday, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft was asked by the event moderator if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is in danger of getting fired. Goodell has faced heavy criticism for how the NFL has handled the investigation and discipline handed to players who recently have faced abuse allegations, including Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.
“Roger’s our commissioner, and we’re very happy with him,” Kraft said. “I haven’t even thought about that.”
The moderator also asked Kraft two team-specific questions.
What’s wrong with the Patriots?
Kraft: “We’re 2-2, which is better than 1-3 or 0-4, but we obviously haven’t played well, and we better start playing well.”
Is Tom Brady starting to decline?
Kraft, stealing a page from Belichick: “We’re moving on to Cincinnati.”
He’s all in
For the first time this season, Rob Gronkowski has been a full participant at practice, another positive sign in his recovery from offseason knee surgery. The big tight end, who caught two passes for 31 yards and a touchdown in Monday’s loss, was asked yet again about his physical progress and what he can contribute to the offense, not only catching the ball but also as a blocker. “I feel good to go,” said Gronkowski. “I’m kind of sick of answering these questions every week. Whatever they put me in for, I’m ready for whatever the coaches have for me.”
Danny Amendola, who has gone three straight games without a reception and has only three catches (for 16 yards) on the season, told the Boston Herald Thursday that he underwent surgery in the offseason to repair a torn groin muscle. “I’m not going to make excuses,” Amendola told the Herald. “I don’t want anything to seem like it’s an excuse.” . . . Brady needs 60 passing yards to reach 50,000 for his career, and he would be the sixth to do it, joining Brett Favre (71,883), Peyton Manning (65,778), Dan Marino (61,361), Drew Brees (52,284), and John Elway (51,475) . . . Thursday’s injury report looked exactly like the one the day before, with safety Nate Ebner and offensive lineman Cameron Fleming missing the full-pads practice with finger injuries. Four other Patriots were limited: defensive end Chandler Jones (shoulder), linebackers Jamie Collins (thigh) and Dont’a Hightower (knee), and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder). The Bengals, coming off their bye week, had five players miss practice for injury-related reasons, including linebacker Vontaze Burfict and receiver Marvin Jones.