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Former Patriot says team in for unappetizing stretch around Gillette

(Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports)

FOXBOROUGHRich Ohrnberger isn’t looking forward to seeing what awaits the Patriots this week at practice.

The former New England offensive lineman, who drew some attention for this tweet that came in the wake of last Thursday’s surprising loss to Kansas City in the regular-season opener, said that it’s not easy being around Gillette Stadium after a loss for a few reasons, including a change in diet.

“There were times where I was positive we weren’t being fed as well when we were losing games as opposed to when we were winning them,” joked Ohrnberger, who played for the Patriots from 2009 through 2011.

“Prime rib versus beef stroganoff,” he added with a laugh.

As far as we know, there were no changes to the menu at Gillette Stadium on Monday. But there was already a hunger to get back on the field as fast as possible in hopes of erasing the memory of the ugly loss to the Chiefs. It’s a process that’s been made all the harder by the fact that the Patriots had a few extra days to sit around and stew about the loss.

“I think you just want to get right back to it,” said safety Duron Harmon. “It made the weekend kind of hard, having to stay at home and watch football being played — seeing football all weekend, especially when you realize the last time you were on a field, it wasn’t the best performance, personally or as a team. So you’re just itching to get back — not even a game. Just to practice and work on everything we didn’t do as well as we should have. I’m looking forward to practicing on Wednesday more than anything.”

Ohrnberger said the players shouldn't be looking forward to what awaits them.

“Here’s the big issue with losing in New England,” said Ohrnberger, who now works as a radio host and college football analyst in San Diego. “It’s not just the expectations of the media and the fans and everyone else since Bill Belichick took over. There’s also a tremendous level of expectation in house. That franchise is so self-critical and self-aware, it impacts everyone in the building. And when you lose like you did on Thursday night — a true team loss — you wear that very hard when you are in that building.

“What’s going to follow that Chiefs loss is a tough week,” he said. “It’ll be a salty week. It’ll be a grinding week, where everyone is spending extra time on the field. They’re spending extra time in the meetings. They’re spending extra time in the film room. It really reaches a point where you can’t wait to get back out on that field the following week, because you want to wash that taste out of your mouth as fast as possible.”

And if they can’t get it done against the Saints? Ohrnberger can recall late in the 2009 season when the Patriots lost back-to-back games against the Saints and Dolphins. They rebounded with three straight wins, but Ohrnberger doesn’t have fond memories of the stretch surrounding those two defeats.

“Those two weeks of practice,” he said, “were two of the most miserable weeks of my professional career.”

Although for Ohrnberger’s part, it doesn’t sound like this team is in danger of falling into that hole.

“There’s definitely a culture that’s been built there to encourage winning. And in the NFL, if you’re not winning, you’re nothing,” he said. “But this week, everyone will be grouchy. Everyone will be salty. And come Sunday, that edge that wasn’t present for the Chiefs game will be restored when they meet the Saints.”