Do Pats fans deserve an explanation?

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Do Pats fans deserve an explanation?

If you haven't read this morning's SRO post about Wes Welker, conspiracies and the Bill Belichick silent treatment, please do so now. When you're done, come on back.

We'll all wait . . .

OK, so after that post, we got the following response from Twitter follower @NewDirty9:

@csnne @rich_levine nothing bothers BB, but fans stuck with this team thru 1 win seasons spygate scandal. And we get 0 answers about anythin Smitty (@NewDirty9) September 19, 2012It's not the first time I've heard something like this from a Patriots fan, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't wrestled with the concept myself. After all, it's not always easy to care so much and invest so much time and energy into a team, while at the same time feeling like you're in the dark on so many matters of importance. Especially when it comes to a player like Wes Welker.

Welker's spent the last five years working his ass off for this coach, this team and its fans. He's taken so many brutal hits, perhaps quite literally taken years off his life and to see him jerked around like this can leave a pretty sour taste in your mouth. To have no explanation for why he's being jerked around? That's even worse.

But when it comes down to why Patriots fans put up with this kind of thing from Belichick, I think NewDirty9 answers the question in his tweet.

From 1989-1993, the Patriots posted five straight losing seasons, during which they went a combined 19-61. There was a one-win season. There was a two-win season. There was WAY TOO MUCH HUGH MILLEN. And yes, the fans who withstood those horrible years deserve an unbelievable amount of credit, respect and admiration from the franchise. They deserve, for instance . . .

More than a decade of cheering for one of the most dominant teams in NFL history.

See what I mean? Sure, in a perfect world, you'd like a coach who's not so insanely protective of every aspect of his team. A coach who let's the fans in and makes them feel a part of the process. But, what can you do? Is that really so much better than what we have now?

Either way, I know that what we have now is better than what we had back then.

I don't care if Bill Belichick boycott's every press conference for the rest of his time in New England, I'd rather be in the dark than spend another five years in the AFC basement.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

When trying to figure out what the Patriots will ultimately do with Jimmy Garoppolo, forget about the speculation and instead focus on the little things the team does. 

Like how they are tending to Jacoby Brissett. 

After having thumb surgery on Oct. 7, Brissett was put on IR. But the team used its one "Get off of IR free card" on Brissett and he's been practicing with the team for the past couple of weeks while not taking up a roster spot. 

That alone isn't compelling evidence that he's the backup-in-waiting and Garoppolo's about to be packed up and shipped out, argued my compadre, Senator Phil Perry. The team had no other players on IR that they could use the designation on at the time. Why not use it on Brissett?

Prior to that, though, we've seen Brissett accompanying the team to away games including the cross-country junket to San Francisco. A reason? Since the Patriots played three straight at Gillette at the start of the season when Brissett was the direct backup to Garoppolo, he didn't get a good look at the road operation and the tempo of being the visiting team. How things work on flights, in meetings, at opposing stadiums and on the sidelines is worth getting a promising young players' eyes on. Also, getting his offensive teammates used to having him around is probably an even bigger benefit. It's not unprecedented to have IR players travel but its not conventional practice either. 

With so many quarterback-needy teams around the league, Garoppolo is perhaps the most attractive option out there. By the end of this year, he will have apprenticed three seasons behind the best quarterback of all-time in a sophisticated offense for a program that's as demanding as any in the league. In the 10 quarters he was able to play as a starter in place of Tom Brady, he was sensational.

He got hurt and that's not great. But any team making a deal for him that has concerns about his durability can take him for a spin for one season. Garoppolo is on the books for $825K in 2017 and then his contract is up. The team that dealt for him can franchise him if they need another season to think on it. 

I don't think the Patriots are itching to move Garoppolo. They know they are sitting comfortably with a stack of the most valuable commodity in the sport -- good quarterbacks (or at least one great one and two promising ones) - piled in front of them. They can let the game come to them. 

If it does, as former Patriots executive and Bill Belichick consigliere Mike Lombardi thinks it will, the Patriots can rest easy dealing Garoppolo knowing that they already did advance work getting Brissett up to speed. 

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player. 

Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore. 

They may not have been on the best of terms.

"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."

But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.

"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.

"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.

"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."