Defensive back Devin McCourty spent his entire career with the New England Patriots, and that means 13 years working under Bill Belichick. For 12 of those years, he was selected as one of the team captains, an indication of just how much Belichick respected him on and off the field.
But that doesn’t mean McCourty, who retired this offseason, has to agree with everything his ex-coach does. And when it comes to the controversial decision to bench receiver Pop Douglas after a fumble late in the first quarter after he was caught from behind by Bradley Chubb of the Dolphins in a Week 2 loss to Miami, McCourty was firmly not on board.
Speaking on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Wednesday morning, McCourty summed up his thoughts succinctly: “I didn’t like it.”
McCourty: Douglas Benching Taught Lesson, but Hurt Team
Douglas has been an exciting find for the Patriots, a sixth-round pick who tallied 2,193 yards receiving on 171 catches in four years at Liberty, adding 16 touchdowns (plus one as a runner). He showed he is an exceptional athlete, with a 4.44 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and an 11-foot-2-inch broad jump (fourth among all prospects).
The drawback with Douglas, and the reason he was on the board for the Patriots so late, is that he stands only 5-foot-8. That could, potentially, make him more fumble-prone. McCourty said other Patriots probably would understand that Douglas has much to learn, but would not much like Douglas’ benching if it cost a chance at a win.
Douglas has made six catches here in his rookie season, for a total of 59 yards.
“I think players, I don’t think they’re gonna take the mindset of like, ‘This is terrible’, because it’s one game, it’s Week 2,” McCourty said. “But I think they would’ve wished to see him in there. I remember Coach (Greg) Schiano (at Rutgers) used to say that to us, ‘A player messes up, I’m not gonna punish that player to hurt the team,’ because then that’s unfair to the rest of the guys. … You might find a different way to show a lesson.”
Douglas’ Speed is Necessary for Pats Offense
McCourty pointed out what has become obvious about this Patriots offense even just two weeks into the season—it is seriously lacking in game-breaking speed. Defensive back Marcus Jones, who ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, is the only guy on the team with Douglas’ kind of speed.
“For that offense, Pop Douglas, there’s nobody else on the offense like him. … He has to play,” McCourty said. “And not just show up a little bit — he needs to be out there a lot. Because you need guys that put some fear in the defense of, ‘Man, when this guy has the ball in his hands we got to gang tackle, we got to surround him.’
“You need that out there on offense because it changes the way some of those guys are gonna play defensively. And when Pop Douglas isn’t out there, they really don’t have that guy. They have good football players, but they don’t have guys that have a different level of explosion and speed.”