What is the logic behind Bill Belichick’s treatment of Kendrick Bourne? It better be something good, because right now, it looks like the Patriots are holding out arguably their best receiver and young quarterback’s favorite target for no reason at all.
Bourne’s sporadic playing time becomes more baffling with each passing week.
Bill Belichick joins "The Greg Hill Show"
On Sunday, Bourne was on the field for just 18 snaps, ranking dead last among Patriots receivers. With Jakobi Meyers out, undrafted rookie Lil’Jordan Humphrey saw the biggest playing time increase. He was on the field for 54 offensive plays, only finishing behind DeVante Parker (64).
How does that make sense?
Bill Belichick tried to explain himself Monday on “The Greg Hill Show,” but his opaque reasoning wasn’t satisfying.
“It's a decision on the type of formations, the type of plays you're running (and) they're running,” he said. “"It was a lot of loaded, heavy boxes from the Ravens. That involves some things in the running game. [Humphrey] is a cross between 12 personnel and 11 personnel. It gives us a little bit of both on the field.”
In other words, Belichick says he thought Humphrey was the better choice for Sunday. But what actually transpired on the field doesn’t indicate he was right.
Despite only playing 18 snaps, Bourne was the Patriots’ second-most productive wideout, finishing with four catches for 58 yards on five targets. He was especially vital at the end of the first half: Mac Jones found him for two straight completions to set up the Patriots in field goal range. Bourne wisely ran out of bounds after his second reception, keeping 1 second on the clock.
It was the kind of situational awareness that Belichick usually loves. Instead, it seems like Bourne is getting punished.
After playing just two snaps against the Dolphins, it was reported that Bourne’s Week 1 benching stemmed from a disagreement with Matt Patricia (Bourne came down with a 41-yard reception on his only target). Bourne’s sparse playing time was an extension of his treatment in the preseason, when he was benched against the Raiders.
After the Dolphins loss, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran said on "Gresh & Keefe" that Robert Kraft was aware of Bourne’s benching, and to expect his playing time to increase. Technically, it has. Bourne played 24 snaps against the Steelers and 18 Sunday. That is more than two!
But he’s still their least-utilized wideout. The Patriots are wasting him.
Making matter worse, it’s apparent that Jones loves throwing to Bourne. Add Bourne’s place in the doghouse to the list obstacles in front of the now-injured young passer.