Bill Belichick Doubles Down on Decision to Bench Demario Douglas

Bill Belichick

Getty Bill Belichick faces a 0-2 hole going into Week 3.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick stood by his benching of rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas after a fumble but keeping him in the game as a punt returner.

“We have other skill players on offense, too,” Belichick said Monday, September 18, on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill” show. “There’s nothing more important than ball security.”

Douglas fumbled with 10 seconds to go in the first quarter of the Patriots’ 24-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 17. New England was driving but dropped the ball at the Dolphins 29-yard-line after making a catch on third down and 8. He finished with two catches for 19 yards (including the 10-yarder that ended in a fumble), and Douglas averaged six yards on his two punt returns.

“We talk about ball security all the time. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t talk about it,” Belichick said. “The days we’re on the practice field, we always work on it, and then talk about it as things come up during the practice. Both sides of the ball — taking the ball away and taking care of the ball.”

“So those are constants for everybody,” Belichick added. “Everybody who touches the ball is important to ball security. We spend a lot of time and effort on it. We’ve got to do a better job.”

Douglas, who won the punt return job in training camp, at least had enough trust from Belichick to stay out on special teams.

Bill Belichick Took Similar Approach in Press Conference

Belichick took a similar approach shortly after the game when he talked with the media regarding his decision. The Patriots moved the ball 40 yards on the drive before the Douglas fumble and never went farther than 35 yards on a drive again until the fourth quarter.

“Yeah, we played all of our skill players,” Belichick told reporters regarding Douglas. “They all played.”

“Look, we had a lot of production on offense,” Belichick added. “[DeVante] Parker had a good day. [Mike] Gesicki had a good day. Hunter [Henry] had a good day, JuJu [Smith-Schuster], KB [Kendrick Bourne]. So, you know, a lot of good players. Can’t play everybody.”

Parker led Patriots receivers with six catches for 57 yards, and Henry had six receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. Gesicki, a former Dolphins tight end, tallied five receptions for 33 yards in his first game against his former squad.

Smith-Schuster, who dealt with benching in Week 1, posted five receptions for 28 yards — again, shy of expectations for a $25 million receiver. Bourne, who has been on the hot seat in the past year, had four catches for 29 yards.

“We played all of our — yeah, look, we could talk about this every week,” Belichick responded. “And there will be somebody that played less than somebody else. We’ve got a lot of skilled players.”

Bill Belichick Has Familiar Message for Patriots Despite 0-2 Start

Belichick didn’t allude to any panic in the face of the franchise’s worst start since 2001, when he coached the Patriots to the team’s first-ever Super Bowl win.

“Same message every week,” Belichick said on WEEI. “Go out there and leave it all on the field, and then when it’s over, watch the film, correct the mistakes and then get ready for the Jets, have a great week of preparation, and then go down there and be ready to play our best football.”

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