New England Patriots

  • Of course it’s Matt Patricia.

    The Patriots’ de facto offensive coordinator – who is also the offensive line coach and Bill Belichick’s “senior football advisor” – is the one turning the screws on the embattled Bourne, based on the latest reporting out of Foxboro. According to Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston, “Bourne’s usage is a Patricia decision.”

    That usage? Two snaps. On one of them, he made a much-needed 41-yard catch from Mac Jones in the fourth quarter. Bourne finished second on the team in receiving yards, with one catch.

  • Sports Hub Patriots Podcast | Week 1 Reactions

    (Click here to subscribe to Patriots Audio on 98.5 The Sports Hub.)

  • It sure seems like Curran is hearing from Robert Kraft, because Curran also says that the Patriots owner “definitely noticed” Bourne’s lack of playing time, as well as the catch, which prompted questions across New England along the lines of, “Where was THAT all day?!”

    Bill Belichick attempted to explain away Bourne’s minimal usage with, “It just worked out that way.” Bourne had clearly slipped to fourth in the pecking order, at best, after a rough summer, so it wouldn’t have been surprising had he played the fewest snaps at the position. But only two snaps, which don’t come until the fourth quarter, feels punitive in nature.

    Worse, it doesn’t feel like what’s best for the team. Unless Bourne is a total malcontent – and I suppose that can’t be ruled out, as evidenced by his punch-throwing during a joint practice brawl with the Panthers – Patricia needs to loosen up with this guy. This was Jones’ most explosive target in 2021, and arguably his most dependable.

  • It seems like Bourne has struggled in his adjustment from Josh McDaniels to Patricia, and there’s certainly no excuse for what he did in the joint practice. But that was weeks ago. And so was his apparent late arrival to the preseason game against Carolina, in which he didn’t play at all. Why is he still being held down?

    At some point, you have to think about the greater good of the team. And maybe Bourne needs to do some of that, too. But at this point, it feels excessive and petty that Bourne would essentially be benched in the season opener. That is only amplified when you consider that he made the most explosive play of the day, and only needed one target to do it. Oh, and the Pats scored seven points and lost.

  • FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 02: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots talks with teammate Kendrick Bourne #84 before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 02: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots talks with teammate Kendrick Bourne #84 before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

  • Ideally, you don’t have your owner meddling in the football operation, so the hope is Kraft resists the urge to intervene as much as he can. But it was more justifiable for Kraft to leave the football side alone when he had Tom Brady at quarterback, and McDaniels coordinating the offense. It’s a much different situation with Patricia and Jones, and the team having spent over $160 million in guaranteed money a year ago. It’s only fair that ownership has some kind of say in how their investment is utilized.

    The silver lining in this whole situation is that Bourne’s playing time “is expected to increase,” according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic. He and the rest of the Patriots’ receivers should have more opportunities to get open against a beatable Steelers secondary. The snap counts will be something to monitor closely.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.