FOXBORO, Mass. — For virtually the entire season, Patriots fans have been calling for New England to use Kendrick Bourne more often. After catching 55 balls for 800 yards in 2021, Bourne entered Week 16 with just 24 catches for 273 yards in 13 games.
Well, fans got their wish Saturday, as Bourne was targeted a season-high nine times in the Patriots’ heartbreaking 22-18 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. And the playmaking wideout delivered with six grabs for 100 yards — his first career 100-yard game — and a touchdown to go along with one rush for 29 yards.
It was the kind of performance that made you wonder why Bourne has been such an afterthought in the passing game this season. Why has his role been so inconsistent given what he’s capable of?
Bill Belichick was asked that question during a postgame news conference, and his answer was rather odd.
“No particular reason,” he said.
That answer is difficult to believe. Belichick has a reason for everything he says and does, and reducing Bourne’s playing time — he saw 52% of offensive snaps last season compared to just 42% through 15 weeks in 2022 — hasn’t been done out of pure randomness.
Reports in September indicated that Bourne entered Matt Patricia’s doghouse during training camp due to being late to a meeting and not being on board with the new offensive scheme. It’s also fair to wonder whether Belichick and Patricia were miffed over Bourne’s controversial postgame remarks after the Patriots’ Week 13 home loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Despite it all, Bourne took the high road after Saturday’s game, saying he’s “happy” the coaches still believe in him and is focused on making the most of his opportunities when they’re presented.
Bourne will look for another strong outing next Sunday when the Patriots host the Miami Dolphins in a must-win game.