Should New England Patriots fans be concerned about wide receiver Kendrick Bourne? After a rocky training camp and quiet preseason, the 25-year-old wide receiver has been the subject of trade rumors.
Several teams reportedly inquired about his availability. One recent assessment, following the Patriots’ disappointing performance in their preseason finale against the Las Vegas Raiders, a 26-3 loss in Sin City, called out Bourne specifically.
The Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard wrote this assessment of Bourne, which was also an indictment on the Patriots’ coaching staff:
“Kendrick Bourne has completely lost his confidence and you wonder if these coaches now how to give it back to him.” The Patriots’ offense has struggled to find traction this offseason.
Spotty performances in training and in preseason games has some seriously worried about the team’s outlook for the 2022 season. Frustration is seemingly a common emotion amongst players on that side of the ball, and it is possible Bourne is feeling a bit of it.
What Can Be Taken From the Poke at the Coaching Staff?
Josh McDaniels, who had been the Patriots’ offensive coordinator from 2012-21. He was a major part of the second half of the Patriots’ dynasty. McDaniels’ system has been knocked for its complexity and lack of friendliness for wide receivers, but Bourne flourished in it in 2021.
Bourne posted career-highs in receptions with 55 and receiving yards with 800. He also tied a career-high with 5 TD receptions. It was Bourne’d first year with the Patriots, but he appeared to find himself while also taking on a leadership role as the team’s spark plug.
This offseason, things have been a little different. Bourne was ejected from a joint practice for fighting, and it appeared he was demoted by the coaching staff the following day. If Bedard is correct and Bourne’s confidence has taken a hit, his questioning about the coaching staff’s ability to reinvigorate him is seemingly pointed at Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.
The two Belichick disciples turned failed-head-coaches, turned returning-assistants with mysterious roles would be the guys charged with getting Bourne and everyone else on the offense back on the right page.
Because neither Patricia nor Judge has a ton of experience working with offensive players, there is an understandable hesitancy to put faith in them to repair a player’s confidence.
While some aren’t willing to point the blame specifically at Belichick, if things go off the rails in 2021–especially behind an inept offense–the future Hall-of-Famer won’t be able to hide under his hoodie.
Can Bourne Bounce Back and Regain the Form He Had in 2021?
Bourne could change the narrative. If he comes out of the gates strong on September 11 in Week 1 vs. the Miami Dolphins, most of this discussion will become moot.
There is no question Bourne is still capable of performing physically. He’s only 25 years old and not recovering from a major injury.
Like many of his teammates, he just needs to find a way to make a mark amidst the changes that have been made to the offense. It’s easier said than done, but likely not impossible.