There is no doubt that the start to the 2014 season hasn't gone the way anyone in New England would have hoped or expected.
Sure the Patriots have a respectable 2-2 record and sit in a tie atop the AFC East.
But Bill Belichick's team hasn't played very good football too often through the first quarter of the new season, and coming off Monday night's embarrassing 41-14 loss in Kansas City all eyes will be on Gillette Stadium Sunday night to see how New England responds in a home battle against an undefeated Bengals team coming off a bye.
Even players on the field are wondering what the response will be.
"I'm very excited and interested to see how we're going to respond," special teams captain Matthew Slater said. "I truly believe that we'll respond with a lot of mental toughness and competitiveness. We have a lot of competitive guys on this team. No one backs down from a challenge. But I'm curious to see how we're going to respond. We're in an unfamiliar spot. And we have to do something about it. It's easy for me to sit here and give you guys 'I feel' statements and give you assessments, but at the end of the day it comes down to us playing on Sunday."
One thing that isn't being preached right now in the New England locker room is blind faith. This team knows it's going through some struggles and that past success won't get it to where it wants to go this season.
"There is a sense of urgency and there needs to be," Slater continued. "We're in a fight and it's going to be a fight the rest of this season, as it is every year. We can't just assume that we're going to be the Patriots and show up and have success. It doesn't work that way. Every one of us needs to heighten our sense of urgency. Every one of us needs to heighten our attention to detail in order for us to have the results that we want to have."
One thing Slater will do is stay positive and try to help his teammates do the same as they head toward another primetime battle with a very good Bengals team.
"I feel confident that we'll be a resilient group and we'll be able to bounce back," Slater said. "But time will tell. It's easy to sit here and talk about it. But hopefully we can go out and do something about it.
"I think it's still early in the season. I know everybody is ready to hit the panic button but there is a lot of football left to be played."