There were many frustrations in the Patriots 20-7 loss to the Dolphins in Week 1, but one of the top ones was the disappearance of Kendrick Bourne.
In his first season with New England, Bourne amassed 800 receiving yards and by the end of the season he was the team’s best playmaker. He was one of the few Patriots to play well in the blowout loss to the Bills in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
Against the Dolphins, however, Bourne played only two snaps. One of those snaps was a 41-yard catch that was the best offensive play of the day for the Patriots. Then, right back to the bench. Why?
Reports surfaced that Bourne was frustrated with the new offense and that he missed a pregame meeting before the preseason game against Carolina. This was in addition to being involved in a joint practice fight with the Panthers.
Missing a meeting, especially before a game, is inexcusable for an NFL player. Bourne should have been punished for the fighting and missing the meeting.
However, that game was on August 19th. His conduct in joint practices was prior to that. Why, weeks later, was it still being held against him? He was already limited in playing time against the Panthers, but it continued into Week 1. I think that is overkill. If he is a consistent headache or not buying in, then trade him or cut him. But if not, work through it with him and don’t bench your best playmaker in Week 1 because of a couple bad days against Carolina.
In 2021, Bourne was not only a great playmaker, but by all accounts, a great teammate and locker room presence. Remember post game video of Bill Belichick giving him a shoutout while mimicking Bourne’s stiff arm?
The Patriots offense clearly missed Bourne in Week 1. They managed only seven points and struggled to move the ball all game.
There have already been reports that Robert Kraft was unhappy with Bourne playing so little in Week 1 and that Bourne’s role will be increased going forward. The increased role going forward is good news, but the owner getting involved in football decisions is not.
I believe discipline is a critical piece to an NFL team and the Patriots have held players to an extremely high standard for two decades. It’s part of the reason they’ve won six Super Bowls.
The entire issue seems like an unforced error. Bourne needed to be more responsible and the team needed to find a way to not take three weeks to punish a player after already limiting his playing time against the Panthers. Again, if he is a consistent problem then the solution is to cut or trade him. If he isn’t then it shouldn’t be a three week punishment.