BOSTON — Where have all the good times gone?

Admittedly, we’ve gotten a little spoiled here in the Hub of Hardware. We are, as they say, “championship driven.” For the past 10 years, anything short of a title run is a disappointment; if a local team doesn’t have a chance to win it all we quickly move on to the next contender.

That’s why two straight losses for the Patriots have left us shocked and chagrined. We don’t expect the Pats to be perfect, but we do expect them to bounce back from an understandable loss in Pittsburgh and beat the Giants at home.

And we certainly expect this team to keep its opponent out of the end zone after scoring a touchdown to take a three-point lead with 1:36 to go.

Perhaps we shouldn’t. Perhaps we should stop fooling ourselves and admit that this defense just isn’t good enough to shut down the NFL’s top offenses.

Bill Belichick has been taking heat for his recent drafts, and you have to wonder if the Pats are finally feeling the effects of his habit of trading down to stockpile lower-round picks.

We haven’t seen a lot of “value” in this defense. What we’ve seen is too much Sergio Brown and Tracy White.

To paraphrase Rick Pitino, Teddy Bruschi isn’t walking through that door. Neither is Rodney Harrison or Rosevelt Colvin or Mike Vrabel or Asante Samuel. Heck, neither is Leigh Bodden.

This defense is giving up 416.2 yards per game — the most in the NFL.

Tom Brady and the boys are going to have to score an awful lot of points to overcome that number. On Sunday, they didn’t.

It’s pretty clear this team will only go as far as Brady will take it, and as we know he has already taken it to three Super Bowl titles.

Things aren’t the same this year. He’s already thrown more than twice as many interceptions as he did all of last season. On Sunday, the Pats couldn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter. There was no running game to speak of, but that’s what happens when your leading rusher only gets the ball 12 times.

Suddenly, there are a lot of questions surrounding this 5-3 team.

The rest of the country delights when the Pats lose. It’s an obvious byproduct of the team’s success. Yet there’s more to it than that. This schadenfreude also comes from a perceived institutional arrogance that reigns in Foxborough.

For the past month, the local media has had a field day picking at the carcass of the 2011 Red Sox season.

Now, as the Sox try to dip back below the radar and regroup for the coming year, the Patriots find themselves squarely in the cross hairs.

Has Belichick lost his edge? Have the losses of key lieutenants over the years finally chipped away at his genius?

These questions will get louder in the days ahead as the Pats prepare for a trip to face the Jets in a battle for first place.

Jets Coach Rex Ryan is the anti-Belichick. He’s loud, brash and loves to sing the virtues of his team. New York defensive tackle Sione Pouha called it “Jet-itude” after Sunday’s win in Buffalo.

Last year, that attitude helped lead the Jets to a 28-21 playoff win in Foxborough and a trip to the AFC championship game. And, right now, this Patriots team isn’t looking as strong as that edition.


Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.