For the ninth consecutive season the New England Patriots came up just short of winning their fourth Super Bowl. They did make it to their third consecutive AFC Championship Game. Whoopee! As long as Tom Brady is the quarterback, the Patriots should never be satisfied with just making the AFC Championship Game. Maybe when Drew Bledsoe was quarterback, it was OK to just get to the Super Bowl. I wore my "1985 AFC Champions" Patriots hat and T-shirt with pride when Tony Eason was the quarterback. But this is Tom Brady-- one of the top three quarterbacks of all-time. Tell me the truth-- prior to 1992 after years of watching Dan Marino and Joe Montana playing for other teams in warm weather climates, did you ever think you'd be able to say you'd be able to see the greatest quarterback of all-time playing with the New England Patriots? Heck, we were just happy the team didn't move to St. Louis in 1992. This is why anything short of winning the Super Bowl is unsatisfactory while #12 is lined up under center.
The Patriots have to figure out how to get over the hump. Their window of opportunity is closing quick. They will have some difficult personnel decisions to make. From everything I've seen and heard, as of right now, they don't have much cap space going into next season. I don't pretend to be a capologist. I leave that for people smarter than me. I get a popsicle headache whenever I try to make sense of the numbers. I do offer my advice and tell the Patriots, "Make it work! Do your job!"