FOXBORO, Mass. — For better and for worse, Bill Belichick sticks to his guns.

On Sunday night, that trademark stubbornness got the best of him.

Rookie receiver Demario Douglas played just six offensive snaps in the Patriots’ 24-17 home loss to the Miami Dolphins. None of those snaps came after Douglas fumbled on a catch-and-run in the first quarter, with Belichick opting to bench the sixth-rounder outside of punt returns.

A player whose speed and playmaking ability showed up last week (four catches for 40 yards) and early Sunday night (two catches for 19 yards) saw no time as the Patriots attempted to come back against Miami. As the Dolphins used their speed to overwhelm New England’s defense, Belichick handcuffed the Patriots offense by withholding the one player who would look at home in Mike McDaniel’s high-octane attack.

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The revised plan? A nearly game-long devotion to two-tight end sets with DeVante Parker seeing 100% of the snaps at one receiver spot and Kendrick Bourne and JuJu Smith-Schuster splitting time on the other side. The Patriots also motioned Rhamondre Stevenson outside multiple times and even deployed some three-tight end looks.

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The end product: A slow, limited offense that needed everything to go right to keep pace with Miami. With a shorthanded offensive line still working through issues, the Patriots stood no chance.

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Douglas would’ve helped; there’s no denying it. But all Belichick cared about was ensuring the rookie, who showed zero ball-security issues throughout training camp, knew that fumbling was bad — as if he’d forgotten.

“We played all of our skill players,” Belichick said after the game, disingenuously dodging fair questions about the issue. ” … (We have) a lot of good players. Can’t play everybody.”

Belichick gave something approaching a real answer during a Monday morning WEEI appearance.

“There’s nothing more important than ball security,” Belichick said.

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Got it. Thanks, Bill.

On one hand, you have to give it to Belichick. The Patriots are 25-28 since Tom Brady left town, and he still is perfectly fine with locking his best players in the doghouse. Just ask Kendrick Bourne.

But there needs to be a line. This can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach, especially with so much riding on this season.

For example, look at Stevenson. As a rookie, he fumbled during his first preseason carry and drew harsh criticism from then-running backs coach Ivan Fears, who seemed to have issues with more than just Stevenson’s ball security. However, Stevenson’s talent and improvement won out, with the Oklahoma product earning an immediate role in Week 1. But he fumbled on the second touch of his NFL career, didn’t see the field the rest of the game and was inactive the next three weeks.

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Well, Stevenson clearly got the message, eventually turning in an impressive rookie campaign. And he didn’t fumble again until Week 16 of last season. Along the way, Stevenson established himself as one of the NFL’s best young running backs.

So, Belichick might’ve played things just right with Stevenson.

But Douglas? We’re talking about an undersized sixth-rounder who’s worked his tail off since Day 1 of spring practices and improved each day throughout training camp. The Liberty product shows a ton of humility — with reporters, anyway — and somehow has wrapped his mind around Bill O’Brien’s complicated playbook. Honestly, that fumble might be the first bad thing we’ve had to write about Douglas since he showed up in New England.

Plus, Douglas was just trying to make a play and got caught by Bradley Chubb, who made a better one. It happens.

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Did the 22-year-old really deserve a timeout in that spot? Unless he’s struggled with fumbles since practices become closed off to the media, it’s hard to argue that Belichick made the right call.

Perhaps it’ll work out in the end. Douglas might channel his inner Stevenson and go nearly two full seasons without dropping the ball again. If that happens, and Douglas still turns into a dangerous weapon in the Patriots offense, then Belichick once again will be proven right. Or something.

Still, his handling of Douglas was completely unnecessary. Belichick loves talking about doing what’s best for his team and his players, but we’re struggling to see who benefited from Douglas’ benching.

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images