The New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft hasn’t earned a reputation as a meddling taskmaster, but it seems he will intervene with a coaching decision if he’s displeased enough with the move and the result.
Could the benching of WR Kendrick Bourne qualify as one of those kinds of coaching decisions? It seems that might be the case. According to NBC Sports’ Tom E. Curran, who appeared on WEEI’s Gresh & Keefe, the Patriots owner didn’t particularly like the decision to bench Bourne.
“Are we talking about somebody who’s gotten sideways with a particular coach, and Belichick wants to give Matt the latitude to make his own decisions on how he proceeds, or are we talking about a guy who’s an active pain in the ass?” Curran said during the appearance. “I don’t know, but we’re looking at a guy whose production, and the fact that he was in mothballs on Sunday, certainly caught the eyes of the owner, from what I understand. And I’d be surprised if he stays down for much longer.”
Bourne supposedly landed in the doghouse of defacto offensive coordinator Matt Patricia after the latter was late for a team meeting before the season started. Bourne may have also voiced his displeasure with the team’s offensive direction.
Things got a little dicier after the Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Bourne only played two snaps the entire game, but he did manage to haul in a 41-yard reception from QB Mac Jones.
Bourne’s former teammate Jaquiski Tartt took to Twitter to post a “Free Kendrick Bourne” message, and the former liked the tweet. That set off some moderate controversy; when you also consider Kraft might not have approved the benching, the Bourne situation is potentially messy.
How Much Will Kendrick Bourne Figure Into the Patriots’ Gameplan?
We don’t know for a fact that Kraft intervened to get Bourne more playing time. That’ll be a part of the narrative if Bourne sees far more snaps in Week 2. However, there is a good chance Bourne would have received more opportunities.
The Patriots and their coaching staff have already made their point. It’s unlikely the team keeps Bourne off the field, considering how badly they need a playmaker. Bourne has the most chance to be a big-time playmaker of any of the healthy receivers in the Patriots’ lineup.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see Bourne have a huge performance in Week 2. New England will likely need every yard he provides.
What Happens if the Patriots Fall to 0-2?
The Pittsburgh Steelers came up with a win in a wild battle with their AFC North division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. That said, the Steelers don’t look like world-beaters by any stretch. Mitchell Trubisky is the team’s quarterback, and he looked like his normal shaky self in the win completing only 21 of 34 passes for 194 yards and a TD.
Perhaps even more important to the Patriots–considering their struggles on offense–edge rusher TJ Watt will not play in the game. That should make life a little easier for Jones.
Still, the question has to be asked: what if the Patriots lose again and fall to 0-2?
The blaming and critiques will get ratcheted up a level, and the Patriots might actually be in as much trouble as easily implied the moment they fell to the Dolphins.