The Patriots offense struggled in their loss to the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday, specifically generating quick, strong, and high energy plays. Rookie wide receiver for New England, Demario “Pop” Douglas brings all of these skills to the table, but he played just six offensive snaps for the Patriots against Miami.
Rewind to the end of the first quarter, Douglas was hit and bobbled the football on a route, ultimately leading to a costly fumble. Ball security and zero room for errors seem to be two aspects of offense that Bill Belichick does not budge on, and this was evident as he benched Demario Douglas.
As the Patriots offense appeared sluggish, there was Douglas, helpless on the sidelines, being punished for a fumble. A mistake more than enough NFL players have made throughout their careers, multiple times. Now maybe Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien are trying to engrain their principles in their young wide receivers brain? Or maybe they just flat out made a mistake.
Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard seems to agree with the latter. He gave his opinion on the Patriot’s loss to the Miami Dolphins and the benching of Demario Douglas on the latest episode of the Greg Bedard Patriots Podcast.
“A prominent Dolphins defender told me after the game, he’s like, Demario Douglas is the only good player on that offense, and Bill took him out of the game…Why?” said Bedard.”
Greg Bedard put Douglas’ position on this team into context. While Demario Douglas has proven himself and emerged as a real talent on this New England roster, his mistake against the Dolphins necessarily isn’t his fault entirely.
“Demario Douglas shouldn’t even be on the field. The only reason that a 6th round pick out of Liberty is playing Sunday night football in his second NFL game is because Bill Belichick left this roster so damn thin on offense that they have no choice but to put this kid on the field,” uttered Bedard.
“And I love Demario Douglas and I think he’s real and I think he’s earned being out there, but Bill, you can’t penalize the kid for your mistake.”
Inconsistency on offense is hurting the Patriots in more ways than one. Juju Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, and Ezekiel Elliott have not had stellar starts to the season. Ezekiel Elliott recorded a fumble the first game of the season, and Juju Smith-Schuster has a knee injury that is blatantly obvious on the field.
Nick Cattles brings up the point that Demario Douglas didn’t receive many snaps in the preseason. To put this one fumble all on the shoulders of a 6th round rookie in his second regular season game ever, is a sign of worry from Bill Belichick.
“That’s not on “Pop,” thats on you Bill. God forbid somebody asks you why you bench the only explosive offensive player that you have right now, that doesn’t work anymore when you’ve gone 2-7 in your last 9 games. You no longer get the benefit of the doubt Bill, those days are over… You need to take accountability as the head coach,” said Cattles.
Bill O’Brien gave some perspective on their decision to bench Demario Douglas saying, “Ball security’s obviously a huge part of what we preach. I would say in the game… I have a lot of confidence in Pop Douglas, as I do all the players that we have.”
More and more people are starting to come out and speak on Coach Belichick’s decision for benching Demario Douglas. Former Patriot Rodney Harrison disagreed with Belichick’s decision saying, “I didn’t agree with coach Belichick when he took the kid out because the kid — he’s trying his best. He’s making moves. And it’s not like he wasn’t trying to protect the football. He was trying to make plays.”
The Patriots take on the Jets this Sunday. It will certainly be interesting to see if Demario Douglas gets time on the field and whether or not Bill Belichick will take accountability for the lack of offense that his team has been displaying thus far.