Heading into the 2022 season, the Patriots seemed to purge one key problem on their wide receiver group and had appeared headed into the year with a full compliment of weapons to give Mac Jones a fighting chance compared to last season.
Instead, something happened between preseason and yesterday’s debacle in Miami that took one of their key wideouts out of the mix.
Say what you want about Kendrick Bourne, but he was the second-most productive player for the club last season in his first year with the team. Bourne finished second in receiving yards for the Patriots after catching 55 passes for 800 yards in the regular season, averaging a team-best 14.5 yards per reception.
He seemed like a player poised to take the next step in 2022, but he found himself as a spectactor on Sunday as Mac Jones took a beating and the offense was only able to finish and get points one time all afternoon.
Overall, Bourne saw just two snaps on Sunday, using one of them to haul in a 41-yard reception on what, at the time, appeared to be a potential last-ditch effort to get back into the game with just over five minutes left to play. But a fumble by Nelson Agholor two plays later negated that opportunity and Miami took the ball back for good and ran out the clock, leaving New England on the wrong end of a 20-7 loss against the Dolphins.
But the fact a healthy Bourne stood on the sidelines for the entire afternoon to that point makes little sense.
“It just kind of worked out that way,” said Bill Belichick on Monday. “It wasn’t anything that was specifically avoided. It just didn’t work out.”
It’s hard to imagine how their second-most productive receiver was kept off the field, and the timeline would make you think any issues should have been ironed out well before now.
This all seemingly started after Bourne found himself in hot water in their week two joining practice sessions against Carolina, where Bourne was involved in a scuffle that escalated between the two clubs, which saw him get ejected from practice. Bourne sat out that preseason contest for what was believed to be disciplinary reasons, which made sense given what transpired.
But something also seemed to happen after that point where that wasn’t the end of it, and there has been speculation that Bourne has made comments about the offense behind the scenes that have potentially caused a problem.
In front of the cameras, he’s said the right things.
“Just playing my role. Whatever I have to do, I’m just waiting for that moment,” Bourne told reporters, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “I don’t really know, so I’m waiting for my opportunity.”
However, behind the scenes, something is going on and it’s bad news for a team that can’t afford to be one receiver short again for an entire season. They traded N’Keal Harry to the Bears and brought in DeVante Parker, which should have been an addition to an already talented group.
Instead, they found themselves on Sunday taking a step back rather than a step forward, which negates what they were likely hoping to accomplish this offseason.
Given what’s at stake and what Bourne brings to the offense, it would be hard to imagine that the two sides can’t sit down and hash this out. While none of us know what started it or what’s been said, clearly there was a reason why he was held out on Sunday.
At the same time, situations like these obviously can’t linger. Bourne’s ejection took place on August 16th, which was nearly a month ago. The fact he remains in the doghouse tells us that something has likely been said or done to prevent this from going away.
Again, on camera, Bourne has said the right things, so he’s at least done a good job of keeping whatever it is in-house. Still, it’s going to probably require a little bit of humility to really put it to bed, and we’ll soon find out how far he’s willing to go in order to get himself back on the field and seeing the number of snaps that made him successful last season.
Either way, Sunday was a reminder that it needs to get figured out. While everyone knows it’s Belichick’s way or the highway, it doesn’t change the fact that it certainly has an effect on the road this team could be headed down this season if it lingers on into this week – or longer.
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Season
Tags: Bill Belichick Kendrick Bourne New England Patriots